NEW DELHI — Assaduddin Owaisi, a prominent Muslim politician who heads the Hyderabad-based All India Majlis Ittehadul Muslimeen, has said there is a need for an independent Muslim political leadership for empowerment of the community. Owaisi, a Member of Parliament, said empowerment will come through representation.
“When a community or caste has proportional political representation, it will get a rightful share in employment and education. The existing discrimination can be checked to a certain extent. Muslims lack political empowerment. They are simply used as vote banks,” he said in an interview to Deccan Chronicle.
His comments came in the wake of the recently announced verdict in Babri Masjid case, clearing way for the construction of a Hindu temple at the masjid site in Ayodhya, as part of a long-pending demand of the Hindutva brigade. The verdict amplified the fears of the Muslims over their future and protection of rights in the county.
Owaisi said the verdict has brought the country closer to the concept of a Hindu Rashtra. “They say that refugees will be given citizenship based on the indigenous religion. These are the agenda of an aggressive Hindutva ideology,” he said.
The AIMIM leader accused the Congress party of playing soft Hindutva politics and its leaders keeping their mouths shut over Muslim issues. “It is the same Congress … P.V. Narasimha Rao was prime minister when the Masjid was demolished. He had promised it would be reconstructed at the same place. Now the party has taken a different stand. The Congress is not playing soft Hindutva, but real Hindutva. Now, see, the Congress is ready to enter into an alliance with the Shiv Sena.”
On being asked whether Muslims have failed to produce a leader, Owaisi said, “Muslims always accepted the leadership of various political parties. They reposed faith in Jawaharlal Nehru, Indira Gandhi, Rajiv Gandhi, NT Rama Rao, Chandrababu Naidu, Lalu Prasad Yadav, Mulayam Singh, Sharad Pawar, Mayawati etc. But what did Muslims get in return? Socio-economic indicators and empirical evidence show that these parties only took our votes. Under Indira Gandhi, massive communal riots occurred. Rajiv Gandhi unlocked Babri Masjid. Major riots took place in Mumbai during 1992-93 after the demolition of Babri Masjid.”
He said that the rise of the BJP showed the Indian Society has demonstrated a right-wing shift. “Now, the Congress and the NCP may enter into an alliance with the Shiv Sena. The only party that remains secular is AIMIM. Who is secular now? The word ‘secular’ becomes a stick to beat AIMIM.”