By S M Anwar Hussain
The other day when I said let Mr Asaduddin Owaisi put himself under the supervision of Popular Front of India (PFI), I was not making fun. I was serious about it. Mr Owaisi is a refined parliamentarian, but he is not a good strategist. He is a good public speaker and is well versed with laws, yet he doesn’t know how to protect himself or the community from the onslaught of law. He is outspoken against RSS and BJP, but he doesn’t know he has been unwittingly helping the two in polarising Hindus against Muslims. He throws challenges to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP president Amit Shah more often, but rarely did he succeed in foiling their nefarious game plans.
In a democratic setup, a leader should be pragmatic. There is no internal democracy in his party AIMIM (All India Muslim Ittehadul Muslimeen ) but he passionately tries to make it a pan-India party.
Ever since the Narendra Modi assumed power at the Centre, Muslims were let down on several issues including triple talaq, abrogation of Article 370 from Jammu and Kashmir, draconian tweak in the UAPA and finally the Supreme Court verdict on Babri Masjid. Owaisi failed to lay any impact in any of the contentious issues.
Raise a think tank
There are just two brains, he and his younger brother Akbaruddin Owaisi. I suggest him to raise a think tank which will guide him. The think tank will plan his activities and suggest ways to maintain equilibrium in his approach towards the plural society. It will advise him how to go ahead in concerted manner to counter the right wing forces without hurting the majoritarian section.
He is no doubt most educated and articulate Muslim leader, but he is more focused on his historical antagonism with Congress than devising a strategy to contain the biggest monster of the time, the Hindutva forces.
Where to find a think tank or raise such a body. I sincerely believe that Kerala-based Popular Front of India (PFI) will prove to be a suitable umbrella body for the purpose. Mr Owaisi could be its Parliamentary board leader as well as its leader in the Parliament. The PFI should give him due and respectable place and present him as the most important voice of not only Muslims, but of all other marginalised communities. Together they can bring political awareness among the marginalized communities in India and prepare a ground for launching a strong and sustained public struggle for proportional representation in the polity including legislature, executive and judiciary.
Political move like this will definitely ensure that a verdict like the present one in Babri Masjid case is not repeated.
I have closely observed its organisational strength, its strategy of networking, its approach of slowly but consistently moving towards the goal, and its ability to discipline its cadres. All over India, there are hundreds of Muslim political and social outfits, but only PFI made a protest march against the SC verdict on Ayodhya.
The PFI has internal democracy. Their leadership or office bearers keep on rotating. There is no hunger for publicity. They follow two-pronged strategy – approach individuals silently and address masses loudly. They are not in a hurry to reach in assembly or in Parliament. They understand the value of mass mobilization and slowly but steadily want to achieve the electoral goal.
United we stand
The PFI too has political structure, but it has set out its priorities smartly. The organization is not satisfied with the performance of secular parties, including the Congress, but it understands that the real enemy at the moment is the Hindutva forces.
So just to satisfy political whims, they never appear to be helping BJP. They have the vision and planning to make Muslims a strong political force. While I never endorsed the idea of separate Muslim political party, but after the Supreme Court judgement, it is now incumbent upon us to work for the political revival of the community, to create a political umbrella and start the struggle for proportional representation.
Only forming a political party and trying to win some more seats in parliament and assemblies are not going to help us. Fourteen percent minority cannot defeat 80 per cent majority in electoral battle. Before going to the electoral battle we need to mobilise masses with issues that can hit not only the imagination of Muslims, but other marginalised community too. I believe, deprivation lies in a long and sustained battle for proportional representation. And I am also certain once Muslims take lead on this issue, many more social groups will join hands with them.
Every struggle seeks for sacrifices and patience in adverse situation. If Muslims have some iota of life and valour left in them, they should get ready to move stand behind the leadership of Owaisi, but under PFI banner. The PFI has its own political front, Social Democratic party of India (SDPI). MIM and SDPI can be merged to make a new outfit and all other small Muslim political parties can be brought on board.
The author is ex-president of AMUSU. He can be reached at Email : email@example.com. Views are personal.