One of the big myths busted in the Telangana Assembly polls is the larger-than-life portrayal of the Owaisis, inheritors of the Nizam era party of Razakars, the Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen, as representative of broader Muslim opinion in India.
In many TV shows, Asaduddin Owaisi, the party’s boss, is frequently interviewed for the Muslim viewpoint on issues, but here is a reality check. In his base of Hyderabad, he got all of seven seats — the same number has has been getting almost every time. But his overall vote share in the state was 2.22 per cent.
Compare this with the BJP, which got all of eight seats but with a vote share of just under 14 per cent, the Bharat Rashtra Samiti’s 37.35 per cent, and the Congress 39.40 per cent.
One wonders why the channels give so much importance to what the MIM, which has labelled itself as the All-India MIM in order to go after the wider extremist Muslim vote, has to say. There is little doubt that the Owaisis are a media creation.
The Owaisis represent a Jinnah-ite brand of extreme Islamist rhetoric. The fact that a lot of Muslims may have defected to the Congress party in Telangana suggests that AIMIM is more hot air than real political muscle.
However, as Jinnah proved in the run-up to partition, the vast majority does not matter much as long as it does not choose to actively oppose the tiny minority that pushes Muslim politics towards the extreme, including by indulging in street violence.
The media needs to debunk the myth of the Owaisis representing Muslim opinion in India. They should be consigned to the dungheap of history.
Jagannathan is Editorial Director, Swarajya. He tweets at @TheJaggi.
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