Monday, April 1, 2019
MIM and the Rise of Muslim Identity Politics
MIM and the Rise of Moslem Identity PoliticsAkshay ShettyThe 2014 Maharashtra legislative Assembly picks were perhaps one of the almost interesting electoral experiments in recent business relationship. The 15 course old Congress-NCP alliance and the 25 year old Shiv Sena-BJP alliance came to an end and the four pcties skirmished elections on their own. era the results of the elections didnt come as a surprise to all of the four break upies, the achievement of one caller has attracted massive media attention, albeit alarmist.Making its debut in Maharashtra, the Hyderabad ground All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (MIM) win 2 seats in the 288-member assembly, grabbing a 0.9% region of votes. Waris Pathan won the Byculla assembly seat by a narrow circumference of 1,357 votes, beating rivals Madhu Chavan of the Bharatiya Janta Party (BJP) and Geeta Gawli of the Akhil Bharatiya Sena (ABS). However, MIM sprung a major surprise in the Aurangabad aboriginal seat, where i ts sufferdidate, former NDTV journalist Imtiaz Jaleel defeated sitting Shiv Sena MLA Pradeep Jaiswal by 19,982 votes. It as well as muddlight-emitting diode(p) three seats by a narrow margin and destroyed third in nine constituencies. Overall, MIM polled over 5.13 lakh votes, even though it fielded, in many cases, political novices. The political party also cut into the traditionalistic vote banks of the Congress, the NCP and managed to wrest control of some areas where the BJP was believed to be strong.Buoyed by the victory, MIM chair Asaduddin Owasi is planning to expand the party base in the state. The MIM has decided to contest all municipal elections in the state, including the BMC election in 2017 and the Aurangabad municipal election in 2015. It already has 13 corporators in the Nanded-Waghala Municipal Corporation. Plans are also afoot to expand in Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal and Karnataka.The MIMs victory can be attributed to two main factors, the division of votes in otherwise parties and the polarisation of the Muslim votes. With the BJP led by Narendra Modi sweeping to victory aft(prenominal) amiable elections across India, the delicate balance between the provinces spiritual and ethnic minorities, and especially its Muslims, and the majority Hindu population is shifting. MIM fed send off the growing feeling of political disempowerment among Muslims and the disenchantment with the Congress, a party which traditionally received the bulk of the Muslim vote. The vitriolic speeches of the Owaisi brothers, with fervent appeals to Allah and claims of Muslim victimhood contributed to the polarization. Clips of Akbaruddin Owaisi were widely circulated on WhatsApp, and the Muslim early days who are wary of the hysteria ring Narendra Modi were attracted to them (Lokhande, 2014).Thus the MIMs victory is a combined result of Muslims macrocosm fed up of the token laymanism of the Congress and the indifference and alienation by the BJP. Indias Muslims are at crossroads today. Before delving into the governing of the MIM, it is all important(p) to understand the state of Indias largest minority residential district.Indias MuslimsMuslims make up roughly 14.4 percent of Indias total population. However, according to a 2013 opus by the Pew Research Center, the country maintains the worlds second-largest Muslim population in raw numbers (roughly 176 million).Often referred to as the lost children of Indias partition (Gayer Jaffrelot, 2012), Muslims who chose to stay in India form struggled to keep yard with the majority fellowship. The Sachar Commission extend (2006), ordered by the then indigenous minister Dr. Manmohan Singh showed Muslims to be stuck at the bottom of almost every scotch or social indicator. They were poorly represented in public sector jobs, school and university places governing. Low literacy levels and low fertility were other major findings.Indias Muslims tend to be excluded from 3 sites of power within the state machinery the judiciary, the governance and the police. In 2002, they represented only 6.26% of the 479 High Court judges in India, 2.95% of the 5,018 Indian Administrative Service officers and 4.02% of the 3,236 IPS officers. By contrast, according to a report in the Times of India, nearly 20% of Indias prisoners were Muslims. Experts believe that this slue is non because Muslims commit more(prenominal) crimes. Rather, its a product of stinting and social deprivation. With no money for litigation and for getting bail, they end up languishing in jails for years. There have been several instances of false cases slapped against Muslims, especially subsequently terror attacks and riots.Closer home, the Mahmoodur Rahman Committee appointed in 2008 by the Maharashtra governing body revealed the shocking social, economic and educational condition of Muslims in the state. Maharashtra has witnessed the highest number of Hindu-Muslim riots post-Independence. Thi s has led to ghettoisation which has further contributed to their neglect. About 45% of Muslim households have a per capita income of less(prenominal) than Rs. 500 a month. About 58 % of urban Muslims live in slums. Muslims constitute only 8.1% of the states farmers, 44.4% of rural Muslims work as agricultural labourers, compared to 36.1% of Hindus. Only 4.4 % of Maharashtras Muslims work in the government services. In 2012, there was not a single Muslim in the consummate cadre of the Indian Administrative Services. The committee also found that in the urban areas, bus stops are located at a 1.3 km distance from Muslim areas. Fearing a backlash from the states Muslims and the media, the government never tabled the report in the Assembly, though it was submitted in 2013.The higher up statistics paint a grim picture. However, this doesnt suggest that Muslims havent progressed in self-reliant India. In addition to being appointed to a number of top positions, Muslims in India enjoy complete political and spiritual liberty, a free legislative environment to undertake economic and educational initiatives, a vibrant television media and cinema that teach liberal coexistence, and approach shot to a vast number of universities and institutes of modern education (Ahmad, 2014). However, the benefits of a democratic, laic and pluralistic polity havent trickled to the vast majority of the countrys Muslims. One of the main primings for this has been their poor pattern in our elective course bodies.Muslim representationWith every election, the position of Muslims has deteriorated. Muslims representation in the sixteenth Lok Sabha hit an all-time low of 22. For the prototypal time in the history of Lok Sabha, not a single Muslim got elected from Uttar Pradesh, Indias most populated and electorally decisive state.Maharashtras Muslims too have been affected by the growing common schism generated during the 1990s. The number of Muslim MLAs in the late elected Mahara shtra Legislative Assembly has dropped to an abysmal nine. The states five dollar bill main political parties put up only 45 Muslim candidates in the election. Out of the nine MLAs, eight have been elected from Muslim-dominated constituencies. Votes polled by Muslim candidates have been steadily falling since 1990. In 2009, darn a non-Muslim candidate polled an average of 13,766 votes, a Muslim candidate attracted only 4,453 votes. This is the reason why most parties refuse tickets to Muslim candidates. No political party dares to put up a Muslim candidate unless the constituency has a existent Muslim population. Even the avowed secular parties continue to succumb to communal consideration in the selection of their candidates.While it is not necessary that Muslims should be represented only by their co-religionists, electorally ignoring an important group is not inviolable for the health of a nation. Representation gives a community a horse sense of be longsighteding. Further, r epresentation of multiple identities is the essence of modern democracy.During the first five tenners after independence, the vast majority of Indian Muslims saw in the Congress their born(p) protector, for its commitment to secularism. However after the demise of Jawaharlal Nehru, the pluralism of the Congress in brief started changing. Muslims credit in the Congress started eroding with the escalation of anti-Muslim violence and the political, social and economic marginalization of the community, sometimes at the hands of the Congress itself (such as during the Emergency). The party started milking the community for electoral gains, by conceding religious and cultural space to the Deobandi Ulemas. illegalize Salman Rushdies novel Satanic Verses, overturning the Shah Bano judgment were among several of the partys tropes which contributed to the disenchantment of moderate Muslims from the Congress.Muslim Identity PoliticsDespite the k presently lost with the Congress and othe r secular parties, Indian Muslims have mostly been reluctant to form their own political parties. However, in the last decade or so, a number of Muslim dominated political parties have emerged in India. The Peace Party was founded in Uttar Pradesh in 2008 by Mohamed Ayub. It won four seats in the 2012 Assembly elections and expanded its base in a number of states. The Kerala-based Indian Union Muslim League enjoys substantial popularity in the state. Maulana Badruddin Ajmal formed the All India United Democratic Front (AIUDF) in Assam after falling out with Congress leader Tarun Gogoi in Assam. It is at once the main opposition party in the state. Other Muslim identity based parties include the Parcham Party, Rashtriya Ulama Council and Welfare Party. However, none of these parties could achieve any substantial success.The MIM and its historyIt is in this context that the rise of MIM in Maharashtra should be seen. The MIM was formally founded in 1927 for educational and social up lift of Muslims, however it first arose as a proto-Islamist movement to defend the Nizams autocracy with an armed militia called the Razakars. They unleashed brutal violence against Hindus, the communists and all those wished to merge Hyderabad with independent India. In 1948, the Indian government sent in the army to overmaster the Razakars, an operation that left several thousands dead. Hyderabad was annexed to India and Kasim Rizvi, the Majlis leader was imprisoned and the organization banned. Rizvi was released closely a decade later only on the condition that he would leave for Pakistan in 48 hours. Before leaving, Rizvi handed over the reins to Abdul Wahed Owaisi, the granddad of Asaduduin Owaisi.Owaisi re-drafted the Majlis constitution in keeping with the provisions of the Indian Constitution and annunciate a parvenu age in the partys history. though MIM remained on the margins of Hyderabads regime for about fifteen years, the situation soon started changing in the 197 0s. Under the new president Salahuddin Owaisi, the party do great inroads in the city. Votes polled by Majlis in the Hyderabad Lok Sabha seat rose from 58,000 in 1962 to over four lakhs in 1989. It also set up a number of educational institutions for Muslims in the city. Thus, a party that was a part of the Razakars has found acceptance in the very city that had celebrated its ouster.The mainstream media has reacted to MIMs victory in Maharashtra with a sense of paranoia. There are fears that the party could accentuate communal differences in the state. Moderate Muslims accuse the MIM of milking the sufferings of Muslims, while not doing anything for the communitys development. Party MP Akbaruddin Owaisi is known for his vitriolic nauseate speeches instigating Muslims to stand up against Hindu violence. MIMs politics represent a reactionary agenda that seeks to counter the violent communal politics of the rightfield Hindu parties.On the other hand, Muslims are also hopeful about the MIM as they feel it can better represent the communitys interests. MIMs rise represents the failure of all secular parties in checking atrocities against Indias minorities and preventing majoritarianism. Muslim youth who fail to see themselves as a part of the youth Narendra Modi keeps gloating about are attracted to the MIM and its aspirational politics which largely involves invoking a false pride of the glorious history of Muslim rulers.However, the same youth need to realize that the MIM has done nothing to defend the human rights of materialization Muslims who are falsely accused of being terrorists and who end up pass years in jails. MIM has never spoken out against radicals within the community neither has it done anything to empower Muslim women. It wouldnt be long before Indias Muslims see through the farce that the MIM represents and the process of disillusion sets in.Problems with identity politicsThe deeply problematic nature of MIMs politics still doesnt justify the medias sustained and critical insurance coverage of its victory in Maharashtra. Identity politics is not a new phenomenon. Indias ruling party BJP has its roots in Hindu nationalism, the Akali decaliter was formed to give a political voice to Sikh issues, the RPI and its more than 50 factions claim to represent Dalits. The UP-based Apna Dal enjoys a following among the Kurmi caste. The Shiv Sena and now the MNS have, from time to time, raised the bogie of the Marathi manoos for electoral gains. The medias hypocrisy while reporting about these parties needs to be called out. Muslim identity politics is as dangerous as the identity politics of any other community.According to Irfan Engineer, director of the Centre for Study of Society and Secularism, Identity politics can be oppressive, hegemonic and exclusionary to strengthen hierarchies and hierarchical structures, to defend the privileges of the social, political and economic elite. It is part of a larger trend of a greater self-assertiveness of identity in India. To counter this, it is important to strengthen the countys secular and pluralistic ideals.ConclusionSo what does that leave Indias Muslims with? They dont need parties which essentialize their identity. Voting en bloc for hegemonic identity based parties isnt going to yield any dividends. All they need is democratic representation of their interests. They need parties and candidates that stand for the values of equality, liberty and referee.MS Sathyus iconic film Garm Hava is perhaps the best film made on Indias partition. It shows Balraj Sahnis family members leave for Pakistan, one after another, because of the increasing discrimination set about by them. In the end, Sahni and his son, Farooq Sheikh too decide to leave the country. On their way to the railway station, they come across a protest work on by angry youth demanding jobs. Sheikh and, eventually, Sahni too join the march, thereby deciding to survive and succeed in his own home land.An Urdu poem by Kaifi Azmi is heard in a voice-over as we see Sahni joining the protestersJo brink se toofan ka karte hain nazaara, unke liye toofan vahaan bhi hai yahan bhi, Dhaare mein jo mil jaaoge, ban jaaoge dhara, Ye vaqt ka elaan vahan bhi hai yahan bhi.The scene is a poignant varan for Indias Muslims that their future depends on engaging with politics of social justice and security rather than falling prey to leaders stoking their insecurities.BibliographyAhmad, T. (2014). Democracy and Indian Muslims. Daily Times. 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