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The circus of Muslim leadership
Following the stellar electoral debut of Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen in the Maharashtra Assembly elections last year, wherein the Hyderabad-based political outfit won two seats, a number of Muslims have started looking upto to the Owaisi brothers for the leadership of the Muslim community. This indeed is an abominable sight.
One can easily label MIM as the Muslim equivalent of Shiv Sena. In December 2012, Akbaruddin Owaisi made national headlines for abusing Hindu gods and threatening to finish off the Hindu community within fifteen minutes. Akbaruddin's communal utterances led to a natural uproar which eventually forced the administration to put the foul mouthed leader in jail. But as Salman Khan walked away scot free a few days ago, so did Akbaruddin Owaisi.

Asaduddin Owaisi, the elder brother of Akbaruddin Owaisi, is seen as the voice of the MIM at the national level. But whenever he is asked to comment on what his younger brother said, he dodges the question by saying "no interview is complete without bringing up Akbar's name." The fact of the matter is that while Asaduddin is the first person to criticize the Sangh Parivar for the hate mongering which they carry out regularly, he has chosen to turn a blind eye towards his own brother's misdeeds.

It is this selective stance against communalism which makes Asaduddin Owaisi as communal as his brother Akbaruddin Owaisi and their counterparts who form the Hindu right wing. Such irresponsible political opportunists cannot be expected to provide any reasonable leadership to the Muslim community.

Muslims who are sympathetic towards MIM should realize that the party doesn't have much intellectual potential except for razor sharp communal rhetoric against the Hindus. India is a country of great diversity and any party which tries to reap electoral dividends by abusing another religious community is to be condemned and not perceived as a "messianic" or capable of altering status quo.

So the question arises: If not the MIM then who should lead the Muslims? People who follow the media rigorously must have heard about the All India Muslim Personal Law Board. Whenever there is any debate on an issue concerning Muslims, media persons rush to the members of the Muslims Personal Law Board as if the outfit commands a massive following of Muslims.

Once a friend of mine and I were making a radio show on the concept of blasphemy in Islam. We wanted to speak to members of the Muslims Personal Law Board so we went to Okhla in New Delhi where the office of the board is situated.

We were surprised to note that not even a single person in the Muslim dominated area knew where the office of the Muslim Personal Law Board was. The incident reflected the non existence of the body among the minds of common Muslims. When we finally reached the office, we found only four to five caretakers present. This further cemented the notion that the Muslim Personal Law Board was more or less good for nothing and far away from leading the Muslim community as television debates often make us believe.

In terms of policy, the Muslim Personal Law Board has not taken a strong position against misogyny. Instead of taking fast measures to ban medieval practises like unilateral triple talaaq or divorce and polygamy, the Muslim Personal Law Board has sat on the subject for years thereby sustaining the exploitation of Muslim women.

This turns the attention of one towards so called secular parties like Samajwadi Party. SP supremo Mulayam Singh Yadav is often referred to as "Mullah Mulayam" because of his pro-Muslim image. However, Samajwadi Party isn't a secular party. Rather, it is one of the most blatant observers of communal politics.

The party is least interested in the welfare of Muslims. They merely indulge in symbolic tokenism which includes going to "iftaar" parties for the purpose of being photographed and making tall promises related to the development of Muslims before elections. But once the elections are over, all the promises are forgotten.

Moreover, some of the actions of the Samajwadi Pary have the given the Muslim community a bad name. While the community is against false indictment of Muslim youth in terror related cases, it has no sympathy for terrorists. But the Samajwadi Party Government in Uttar Pradesh tried to consolidate the support of Muslims by dropping terror charges against those who were booked under laws made by the Central Government.

In December 2013, the Lucknow bench of the Allahabad High Court very appropriately pointed out to the State Government led by Samajwadi Party that it cannot drop terror charges in such cases without the consent of the Central Government. The Samajwadi Party needs to understand that Muslims don't believe in cheerleading for terrorists. It is important to stand up for individuals implicated falsely but due procedure has to followed.

Such unconstitutional acts of the Samajwadi Party Government obviously amount to communal politics but they also dent the reputation of Muslims. The impression which goes out is that Muslims will be overjoyed if terrorists are rescued and hence, will support the Samajwadi Party which is certainly not the case.

The next time Samajwadi Party thinks of doing justice, it should duly follow the procedure laid down by law and not overlook the legal process simply to position itself as a saviour of the Muslims. The Muzaffarnagar riots showed how much Samajwadi Party cares for the Muslims. In January 2014, when riot victims were dying of cold in the refugee camps, the father son duo of Mulayam and Akhilesh was busy in welcoming the New Year at a gala function held in their ancestral village of Saifai where Bollywood stars performed on hit numbers.

At the national level, a large number of Muslims vote for Indian National Congress (INC) because they have no alternative and wish to prevent the BJP from coming to power. But there is not much of a difference between the BJP and Congress. While the BJP indulges in blatant communalism through elements like Yogi Adityanath and Sakshi Maharaj who bad mouth the Muslim community and raise aspersions in regard to their patriotism, the Congress indulges in soft communalism.

INC has ruled India for the maximum period since independence but the Muslims have continued to remain backward. INC failed to punish those who perpetrated violence against Muslims in successive riots. It never abrogated the communal Constitution Order of 1950 pertaining to Article 341 of the Indian Constitution which prevents Dalit Muslims and Dalit Christians from getting reservation benefits under the Scheduled Caste quota. Instead Congress President Sonia Gandhi went to Imam Bukhari of Jama Masjid in the lead up the 2014 General Elections to win the support of Muslims.

The move clearly indicated the Congress's policy of soft communalism. When in power, do nothing substantial for the development of the Muslim community alongside other Indians but try and garner the support of communal Muslim leaders like Imam Bukhari (who advocated love jihad to combat ghar wapsi) to win Muslim votes. The Muslims have been treated like a doormat by the Congress as the party knows that the Muslims will eventually vote for it as they have no real alternative on the ground.

This is the sad reality of politics in our country. The Muslims should act wisely and understand that only secular leadership and modernization can bring about a change in their fortunes. Not only should they stand vehemently opposed to the communal agenda of the Sangh Parivar, they should steer clear of the communal vote catching tactics of the Congress, SP and MIM, all of whom salivate at the prospect of consolidating Muslim votes.

Editorial NOTE: This article is categorized under Opinion Section. The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of In case you have a opposing view, please click here to share the same in the comments section.
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