Credit must be given where it is due. Hindus have always been a majority in India. Even during the Muslim rule of over 700 years, Hindus constituted majority, despite combining the Muslim population of present day Pakistan and Bangladesh. This reality tells us something about the defining nature of a vast majority of Hindus i.e tolerance and pluralism. Without these twin qualities, it would be impossible for the largest Muslim population in the world to co-exist with majority Hindus for centuries.
Modern world history is essentially written by those who have ruled the modern world in the last 3 to 4 centuries i.e. Western imperial powers. Notwithstanding their antagonism towards Islam and Muslims, they have not been able to provide credible evidence of any largescale conflict between Muslims and Hindus in India – until the British arrived!
In this background, the results of Bihar elections should not surprise anyone. This is how India has always been. What, in fact, surprised everyone (who is not a fascist) were the results of 2014 national elections! In Bihar, Muslims did vote by using their head; not heart. But let us make no mistake. Major credit for the humiliation of fascism, first in Delhi elections late last year and now in India’s second most populous state Bihar, goes to Hindu votes.
But before this, let’s step back and have a look at the pre-election scenario in the country. Cold-blooded murders of Muslims; public humiliation of intellectuals and free-speech advocates by the supporters of fascism shook the country (not just Muslims) to its core. From top intellectuals and top corporate honchos to top Bollywood stars felt the need to stand up against this nonsense before it gets too late. These courageous (mainly Hindu) sons and daughters of India had set the stage for the outcome of Bihar elections.
Historically, as mentioned above, the credit of keeping India a plural country largely goes to Hindus. For having absolute majority in the country, it is a fair expectation that the major responsibility of keeping the country secular (and therefore intact) remains on Hindus. And they have proven, once again, that Hindu masses reject all types of hyper-nationalism, cultural imperialism and religious fascism. They also reject any political format that threatens the social fabric of plural India. The way fascism promoted “Gujarat model” for its political ascent, secular forces are now expected to scale up the gains made from the “Bihar model”.
The other excellent outcome of this election is the humiliation of Majlis Ittehadul Muslimeen (MIM). The credit of displaying this political maturity goes to the power of Muslim votes – obviously no other community can be fool enough to vote for this party which does not even have a manifesto! Perhaps, the thinking behind not having a manifesto is that “why to promise anything in writing, if there is nothing we are going to deliver to the voters – except rhetoric”!
I had been thinking of highlighting some of these points for the last few months. But Muslims being an emotional lot – partly due to enormous sense of insecurity they have been experiencing recently – would have completely misunderstood the key message. Now MIM’s drubbing (it secured only 0.02% of the total votes) in Bihar boosted my confidence. And proved the fact that there are plenty of Muslims who think rationally, not emotionally!
In my humble opinion, MIM has three bizarre features that every die-hard supporter of democracy and fair governance will detest:
- Dynasty – Asaduddin’s grandfather Abdul Wahid Owaisi was the founder member of this party. His father, Salahuddin Owaisi, remained the sole Member of Parliament (MP) from the party. After him, the third generation Owaisi has occupied the Parliament seat. And you bet, will continue to hold this seat till he departs (or the next generation Owaisi is ready to step-in)! But not just this, his younger brother Akbaruddin Owaisi is the leader of MIM in the state legislature. So this completes “100% family ownership” of MIM! Is this a democratic party or a well-entrenched and self-serving political dynasty?
- Development – By marriage, I am half-Hyderabadi. This keeps bringing me to this beautiful city that I enormously adore. Looking at the constituency of Asaduddin Owaisi tells the tale of performance (or lack of it) of this “sole leader of Indian Muslims”! Calling old city, the area Owaisi dynasty has been ruling for over four decades, backward will be a gross understatement. It is just filthy. And crumbling. The old city, the political bastion of Owaisis, is in complete contrast to other parts of Hyderabad that are gleaming and well-urbanized. Almost all educational institutions that the family claims to run for the benefit of Muslims are commercial i.e. money making machines.
- Destiny – It is a great misfortune of Indian Muslims in general and Hyderabadi Muslims in particular that no credible political leadership came up that could challenge this dynasty. But it was the great fortune of this family that they hit the political/economic jackpot created as a result of Muslim leadership vacuum. Now can anyone dare to ask Owaisis, what was their family’s networth when they plunged into fulltime politics over forty years back? And what is their family’s networth now? Politics has been the full time job of three generations of Owaisis. So if they are selflessly “serving the community”, then the common sense dictates that they should be roughly as poor/rich, as they were forty years back!
This much for MIM.
For centuries, India has been a multi-culture and multi-religious country. Its socio-political culture must continue to reflect this. Anything else will be a disaster for our coming generations. All fascists who lay the foundation of hatred (and therefore a dreadful future for our kids) will never be forgiven!
By Mansoor Durani