Beyond Communalism

by N V Subramanian - Sep 24, 2015 08:18 PM +05:30 IST
Beyond Communalism

A lot of brouhaha has been generated in the media regarding the fact that the All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) under Asauddin Owaisi’s leadership is contesting the Bihar polls. But, is it worth the attention?

There is no reason to be alarmed at Asaduddin Owaisi’s party fighting the Bihar elections. The All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) is a registered political party. India is a free country. Elections are open to all. Campaigns are subject to reasonable constitutional restrictions. A democratic contest remains the best way to let off steam.

What are the chances of Owaisi in Bihar? Elections are unpredictable. Parties like the Congress, JD-U, RJD, etc see the Muslim community as a votebank. They fear that Owaisi will cut their votes and hand an easy victory to the Bharatiya Janata Party. They allege an Owaisi-BJP conspiracy.

The conspiracy theory looks nonsense on the face of it. It is also possible that the so-called secular alliance has jumped to conclusions rather soon. Voters are not fools. They will not vote for AIMIM if it brings no advantage. That is good if it happens. Owaisi should be taught a lesson not to substitute communalism for value-based politics.

But any scaring of the Congress, JD-U and RJD preceding that denouement is also welcome. For decades, they have abused Muslims as votebanks. Neither the Congress nor the JD-U has raised the tide for all where Muslims also benefit. Divide and rule is their policy. Communalism is easily replicated. If the Congress can demonize the BJP to win Muslim votes, why shouldn’t Owaisi in theory do better? Muslims are wiser. When will wisdom dawn on communal parties like the Congress, JD-U and RJD?

The BJP also needs to check its elation about Owaisi in Bihar. While any conspiracy between them seems farfetched, it is sane not to celebrate AIMIM’s foray in the state.

(Wikimedia Commons/littleowaisi)
(Wikimedia Commons/littleowaisi)

The country needs growth, development and prosperity. It can do without mixing religion and politics. The energies misspent on banning meat can be gainfully employed elsewhere. Somebody from the BJP also ought to tell Ramdev that his place is in an ashram surrounded by goodness and silence and not in the political arena mouthing inanities about BJP’s rivals.

The politics of India must claim the high ground of decency. Votebank politics is short-term politics. It can obtain victory in one or two elections but it will be succeeded by a backlash. The backlash against the corruption and communalism of Congress brought Narendra Modi to power. Sections of his government lurch back to Congress-style communalism now and then. This is dangerous and counterproductive.

The Union culture minister is someone called Mahesh Sharma. He is motormouthed like some of his other colleagues in government. He wants a meat ban during Navratri which is as uncalled for as his remarks against certain holy books. Who has given him permission to speak nonsense on television? Can the prime minister rein in ministers to the more urgent task of taking the country forward?

Politicians like Owaisi will feel endangered when their brand of communalism is not copied. It is easy to divide as the Congress has always done and infinitely more difficult to unite. The prime minister has a uniting agenda of growth and development. In the elections of Bihar and in all policies of BJP state governments, that alone should be pursued, privileged and propagated.  The country needs to get beyond Asaduddin Owaisi, the Congress, the RJD and all manner of institutionalized communalism.

This piece was first published at on September 14, 2015.

N.V.Subramanian is the Editor of and writes on politics and strategic affairs.
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