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Indian Muslims must have seperate political identity: Asaduddin Owaisi
Says, atrocities against Muslims will stop only when they become a political force
Sunday July 14, 2013 6:26 PM, IINA

In the cacophony of political sound bites, there are some voices that are clearly audible. They are audible not because of their decibel levels but because of the ripple effect they create. One such voice is that of Barrister Asaduddin Owaisi, Member of Parliament and President of All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM). In fact, Asad's is one of the few voices among contemporary Muslims in India which create incredible political resonance. You loathe him or love him, but you can't ignore him.

For his adversaries he is a divisive politician, but for his supporters he is "naqeeb-e-millat" (the leader of the community).

"Ours is a political struggle. Yes, we espouse the cause of the downtrodden, and we are proud of it. I don't think it is a divisive political fight, but it is a fight to strengthen parliamentary democracy," said Asaduddin in an interview with Saudi Gazette newspaper on Saturday.

"In democracy everyone has the right to hold his opinion. As far as we are concerned we are trying our best to develop good relations among various communities," said Asaduddin, who has been barred from addressing meetings in Maharashtra as a precautionary measure.

"Does not matter," he said nonchalantly. "The more they stop me, the more they help me. There must be some truth in what I am saying. The truth is hurting them so they are trying to stop me. But how long can they stop me. The same happened in Aurangabad and I went there and thousands of people turned up. Now we are getting strengthened."

Asaduddin, who does not mince words when putting forth his point of view, urged Indian Muslims to have a different political identity.

"Muslims must realize that they have to have a different political identity. They must get out of the thinking that if they have a different political identity that will lead to strengthening the communal forces. This is a totally wrong understanding of the situation. This will strengthen our parliamentary democracy", he says.

He says that the national and secular parties have completely failed. "We have tried and tested secular parties but they have not come to our rescue."

"Despite the Congress being in power in Maharashtra, every two-three months Muslim youths are being picked up under false charges of terrorism. This can only stop when you become a political force. No one is going to come from the sky or the ground to help. We have to take the bull by the horn. We have to create our own leaders under a political party," said Asaduddin, who has been heading AIMIM since 2008.

He elaborated on his point by giving the example of Karnataka where the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government was overthrown in the recent assembly elections.

"In Karnataka, the BJP was removed. Muslims supported the Congress. In Karnataka the Muslim population is 13%. So in the assembly nearly 20 MLAs should have been elected, but only 11 got elected. What kind of secularism is this. I keep on voting for secular parties but Muslim candidates don't get elected. This is a classic example wherein secular parties are winning but on the ground communal forces are getting stronger." Asaduddin, who openly espouses the cause of the Muslims, listed four important issues which need to be addressed, and which the community must put on electoral agenda.

"Overall, at the national level, the issue of reservation is very important. Increase in the annual budget of the minority affairs ministries of state governments is another crucial issue followed by an increase in the credit for state owned banks. Last but the most important, the persecution of Muslim youths in the name of terrorism must be stopped", he said.

Asaduddin, who is Barrister-at-Law from Lincolns Inn, welcomed the recent Supreme Court judgement that strikes down a section of Representation of the People Act which allowed a convicted lawmaker to remain in office while cases are pending against them.

But he had reservations about a related judgement in which the apex court barred anyone from contesting elections or casting vote from prison.

"It is open to misuse and abuse. I hope that the government of India ensures that the judgement is overturned", he said.

In relation to hate speech for which his brother Akbaruddin is under trial and is accused of sedition and spreading communal hatred, Asaduddin said the law has to be applied universally.

"You cannot have selective application of the law only on Akbaruddin", he said.

As regards to the growing political clout of right-wing leader Narendra Modi, he said: "Indians have to decide whether they want to go toward fascism or toward secular democracy.

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