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Will MIM correct its course?

Saturday January 12, 2013 10:37:48 PM, Kaleem Kawaja,

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About six to twelve months ago it appeared that MIM (Majlis Ittihad Muslimeen) under the leadership of Asaduddin Owaisi was on the right path. It had moderated its stance and embarked on an ambitious and wise plan to expand MIM into several districts in adjoining Maharashtra, Karnatak states and reaching out to districts far from Hyderabad city where once the Nizam's Hyderabad government existed. It had good success when 11 MIM members were elected to Nanded district (Maharshtra) municipal council. MIM also gave tickets to Dalit and OBC candidates from the Hindu community. MIM was making good alliances with secular parties. That was a farsighted strategy which was good for MIM and for Muslims. It appeared that MIM was taking a cue from AIUDF of Assam or IUML of Kerala.

Then the anti-Muslim forces played their card. In November 2012 on the occasion of Diwali, in collusion with police they built a rather large makeshift temple adjoining the wall of Charminar monument overnight. MIM and Muslims in the old city protested for about a day. But the police and AP govt did not pay much attention. However this seasonal building of makeshift temple at Char Minar is an annual affair that occurs every year on Diwali.

Since this temporary temple construction was a clear violation of the AP High Court order and the ASI order to not change the status of historical monuments, MIM should have gone to High Court or Supreme Court with a PIL and the Central govt and should have organized bigger protests. But they did not do that.

It appears that in December 2012 some elements in MIM led by Akbaruddin Owaisi decided against the moderation-expansion policy of MIM and Asaduddin Owaisi and decided to dig their heels on a right wing stance. Thus came MIM's withdrawal of support from Congress party both in AP and the Centre. Thereafter Akbaruddin Owaisi launched a campaign of provocative and inflammatory speeches laced with orthodox Islamic color in several towns in AP. As expected the AP state government, police and courts have reacted strongly by arresting Akbaruddin Owaisi and clamping down on MIM.

The right wing elements in MIM may have expected protests from some Muslims outside AP to the police crackdown on Akbaruddin Owaisi. But it has not materialized. Almost no Muslim party, group or leader anywhere in India have made any protest. Secular Muslim leaders have either decried Akbaruddin Owaisi speech or have ignored the entire episode. Also no minority or secular party has protested against the AP police crackdown on MIM.

For the last five years Muslims all over the country are at last focussing on making improvement in their socioeconomic and educational status. They are demanding that the central and state governments assist them with some reservation in college admissions and employment, and implement the Sachar Committee and Misra Committee reports. They are not demanding the reconstruction of Babri mosque.

India's Muslims have moved away from the 1980s Masjid-Mandir tussle with Hindus, realizing how much harm it has caused them and that in 80% majority Hindu India, this is definitely a loosing battle to fight. They have also realized that in the 1980s they were trapped in the Mandir-Masjid politics by BJP. Muslims have no intention of repeating that mistake. But the right wingers in the Muslim community do not want to give up. They want to regnite the Mandir-Masjid political tussle of twenty years ago.

Is the reversal of MIM policy in December 2012 to go back to religion based right wing stance a result of infighting in MIM? Is this the result of tussle between the two Owaisi brothers for the top leadership of MIM?

With its long enduring and strong base in Hyderabad and AP, MIM is in an excellent position to uplift the Muslims of AP from their depressed socioeconomic situation. But for that MIM leadership has to control the right-wing elements in the party and bring some sane heads into the senior leadership of the party that can support Asaduddin Owaisi's farsighted policies. For the welfare of the Muslims of the country let us hope that it does happen.



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