Muslims and development - What Owaisi needs to understand

'Muslims need development with dignity.'

Thus spake Asaduddin Owaisi in one of his numerous interviews in recent times. This is exactly the sort of loaded rhetoric that sent the Congress packing. What exactly does Owaisi mean by 'dignity' for Muslims? Poisoning their minds with speeches like these? While the crowd response in these speeches is quite worrisome, does it behove leaders to talk like this? Isn’t it their responsibility to remove these vile thoughts from people’s minds? The Owaisi clan’s entire campaign was built around this hatred. Right from 2012, numerous videos have surfaced where such hatred is routinely spewed. Is this the dignity that Owaisi was talking about?

In another recent Press interaction, he made a hilarious claim.

'It (the Muslim vote-bank) was all a figment of imagination. The community always looked to leaders like Pandit Nehru, Indira Gandhi, Rajiv Gandhi, Nitish Kumar, Lalu Prasad and others.'

Out of nowhere, we get to hear the names of Lalu Prasad and Nitish Kumar as the leaders to which the Muslim community looked up to! For starters, no one enjoyed development when Lalu was the CM! One can perhaps comprehend him praising Lalu, but it is plain baffling that Nitish Kumar has become an icon to the community within no time! Owaisi of course, was making a political statement. Fresh from winning two Assembly seats in the recent Maharashtra elections, he now wants to spread to UP, Delhi and … lo and behold… Bihar! No wonder he is showering praises at Lalu and Nitish!

After the 2014 elections, Asaduddin Owaisi congratulated Prime Minister Modi for busting the 'myth of the Muslim vote bank'. Hidden in his congratulatory message to the PM (and in his latest Press meets), is the fear that he is losing his grip on the vote-bank! The MIM leadership’s constant stress on the need for more representation from the community; their constant messaging that the dwindling representation is 'not good for democracy' – all expose the fear that the community is moving away from their vice-like grip. And to somehow make attempts to get back the grip, the names of Congress leaders and regional leaders are being used freely now!

Recently, playing straight into the hands of people like those of the Owaisi clan, The Hindupublished a front page report saying that out of the 151 Ministers belonging to the BJP in the entire country, not a single one is a Muslim. It looks like the aim now is to actually build a Muslim vote-bank that will pander to the likes of Lalu and Nitish (I am still unable to get over this. How can anyone with an eye for development and dignity look up to Lalu Prasad?). The message for this has to be of simple design — create a fear that a dwindling representation means dwindling hopes of 'dignity' and 'development'! Create a fear that the BJP is out to destroy the awesome “development” models being followed by the likes of Owaisi and Lalu (and of course the Nehru-Gandhis).

Another oft-repeated demand of the MIM is reservations for Muslims. The demand has arisen because they feel that their community has not been given proper support, and hence has become downtrodden or backward etc. The chief reason for this is the very same icons Owaisi mentioned - Nehru, Indira, Rajiv etc! The Congress ruled the country and many States for decades altogether. MIM is in alliance with the Congress in the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation. The Mayor of Hyderabad is also from MIM. And yet, MIM rues the fact the community they represent is backward and therefore needs reservations!

Development means enabling proper education for the youth. Education that will aid in generating livelihoods. Dignity means encouraging young and old alike to cultivate positive thoughts about the development of the country and their fellow citizens; not pouring bile on other religions and their followers. The Owaisi itself clan operates colleges and a hospital in Hyderabad. The secret to winning is through enabling prosperity. The MIM knows this but is not bold enough to make it their key message. Hence the fallback on useless rhetoric.

Courtesy Niti Central

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