By Special Correspondent
The Muslims must stand up to stake their claims democratically and try hard to be the part of the country’s political activities failing which they will further be pushed to wall, observed AIMIM president and MP Asadauddin Owaisi during the launch of “Absent in Politics and Power: Political Exclusion of Indian Muslims”, a book depicting socio-economic and political deprivation of Muslims written by Abdur Rahman in New Delhi.
In hard hitting words, the All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) president came down heavily on the secular parties, underscoring that Muslim-managed parties were not invited to be the part of the opposition INDIA alliance. “Go to hell,” said the Hyderabad MP referring to the recently formed opposition bloc. He also exposed the “secular” parties, citing several incidents where they succumbed to the pressure of saffron brigade. He charged that they rarely take communal forces head on. The parliamentarian strongly criticized the delimitation exercise carried out in Assam and Jammu and Kashmir.
He contested the narrative built by ‘secular’ political parties ahead of elections. “Only Muslims are fighting to preserve democracy and secularism,” he said implored the community to overcome the mentality of subjugation – of being ‘voters’ merely. “Stand up to stake your due claims in democracy,” he said.
Speaking on the occasion, IUML leader said that the situation is different in Kerala, underscoring that the Muslims keep fighting for their rights, and they have made their place by dint of their efforts. He said that the Muslims in Kerala are thriving because they have apt representation in politics.
RJD’s national spokesperson and Rajya Sabha MP called upon the civil society organizations to take up the fight in order to protect the cherished values of the Constitution. He said: “The country has become worse than in pre-Partition times… It is becoming more and more communal.” He further anticipated that even the defeat of BJP in 2024 less likely make any significant change on the front of communalism. “Merely elections cannot change India’s political landscape. During partition, the communal hatred was like disease, but now it is pandemic which cannot be overcome easily.” He called the book a “document”.
The author, Abdur Rahman, the Maharshtra cadre IPS officer who had resigned from his job in protest against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act in December 2020, has meticulously documented the factors responsible for the socio-political deprivation of Indian Muslims and calls for taking up measures to empower them. Remarkably, the book doesn’t make general statement that all political parties exclude Muslims from politics, underscoring that the most of the splinters from Janata Dal such as RJD, LJP, JD-U and others provided Muslims with a proportional representation of around 13.14 percent since 1998 till 2019. The highest nomination is from RJD – 17.36.
Rahman highlighted the flaws of the current first-past-the-post (FPTP) electoral system and called for a shift towards the proportional representation in order to ensure greater political inclusivity.
The author further observed other factors contributing to the political exclusion of Muslims, including prejudices within existing political parties, communalisation, and issues related to delimitation. Rahman also referred to late author Omar Khalidi’s suggestion that Muslims should initially focus on indirect political engagement, building pressure on secular parties, and nurturing Muslim leaders. The last work can be done by the Muslim-managed parties. Interestingly, the leaders of three Muslim-managed parties – AIMIM, IUML and AIUDF – were on the dais.
The book heavily relies on the Sachar Committee report for data, which extensively studied the socio-economic and political conditions of Indian Muslims, to support his arguments.
Rahman firmly emphasized that the issue of political exclusion faced by Indian Muslims should be recognized as a “national problem”, requiring concerted efforts from all segments of society to address the concerns.
The event witnessed a gathering of journalists, scholars, academicians and leaders from various hues and backgrounds. It ended with a call for continued dialogue and action towards achieving political empowerment and inclusivity for Muslims.