A few days back, I received a phone call from News 24 inviting me to join a debate on “Modi Sarkar ka Eik Saal’ at Constitutional Club. When I reached the venue, I saw three chairs on the podium and a few chairs in front. I was given a chair in the front row with Vinod Sharma, Sahib Singh (of SP), Kamal Faruqui, Dr Zafar Mahmud and a few others joining. Soon, Asaduddin Owaisi came. I had never personally met him before, but when I introduced myself, he hugged me saying he was anxious to meet me. He then went on to the podium along with two anchors. Soon, it was clear that instead of grilling Modi Sarkar’s performance, the programme was designed to grill Owaisi instead. Right from the beginning, a fiery attack was launched against him giving the impression that if Modi’s men are spreading venom; his own contribution was no less dangerous. The whole programme revolved not around Modi’s one year but around Owaisi’s one year. When I severely objected to the format, my voice was suppressed. Only questions on Owaisi were entertained with Vinod Sharma leading the charge. Owaisi of course was at his aggressive best. He lambasted the anchors for trying to paint him as an anti-national arguing that “anyone not supporting Congress ceases to be Secular and anyone not supporting BJP ceases to become Nationalist”.
I thought News 24 might have made a mistake by grilling Owaisi rather than a BJP minister on the issue of the performance of Modi government in the first year. But it was followed by similar programmes on at least two other channels. Now I am sure the media has deliberately planned a coordinated strategy to attack Owaisi in order to diffuse the rabid communal statements of Modi’s team members. They refuse to admit that while Owaisi might have been a little rude in hitting back at these elements, there is a big difference in the nature of remarks made by the two parties. Whatever Owaisi has said is in reaction to the statements made by Hindutva Brigade and more often than not they are directed against these elements rather than against Hindu community. The comments on the other hand by the Hindutva Brigade are directed against the whole Muslim community. Moreover, often the statements made by Owaisi are not properly understood. To be fair, it also throws a poor light on the functioning of MIM that it is not able to elaborate the statements of its leaders in right manner.
For example, a huge reaction followed Owaisi’s remark that “all born children are Muslims.” It needed an explanation. Islam literally means submission to God, and according to every religion, the whole universe submits to the physical laws of God. Speaking in Arabic therefore, the whole universe is Muslim. A newborn child too follows the laws of God, physical and biological, till he is able to make decisions himself. So, again speaking in Arabic, every child is a Muslim, and leaves Islam later when he starts worshipping deities other than God. Similarly, what Akbaruddin Owaisi said regarding the riots was also a reaction to the well-known fact that in almost all Hindu-Muslim riots, the Police have been found actively supporting the rioters belonging to the majority community.
While BJP might be trying to equate its communalism with Owaisi’s, by doing so it is only giving more popularity to Owaisi. This again may be a part of its political strategy to divide Muslim votes. Hopefully, Owaisi understands it well, and will make every possible attempt not to let Muslim votes divided. If he can enlarge his area of reach, it may very well have a positive impact on the political empowerment of Muslims. With 15 percent votes, Muslims cannot hope to play a decisive role in national politics, except in a few seats. But if they can attract another 15 percent, this can change the whole scenario. This cannot however happen unless Muslim political leadership learns to raise the national issues and takes lead in campaigns that benefit the deprived classes.
Dr Javed Jamil is India based thinker and writer with over a dozen books including his latest, “Quranic Paradigms of Sciences & Society” (First Vol: Health), “Muslims Most Civilised, Yet Not Enough” and “Muslim Vision of Secular India: Destination & Road-map”. Other works include “The Devil of Economic Fundamentalism”, “The Essence of the Divine Verses”, “The Killer Sex”, “Islam means Peace” and “Rediscovering the Universe”. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or 91-8130340339.