On reading BS Murthy’s article “Indian Constitution – A Vacuity in Verbiage” at Boloji.com, I couldn’t contain myself from speaking out.
With due respect to my Muslim brethren, I too have reservations about the way Azan goes about in our country. The five-time call dins forcibly into everyone’s ears not merely of Muslims but of Hindus and Christians as well. If they can use blaring megaphones, non-existent at the time of Prophet Muhammad, the caller can as well send WhatsApp messages about the prayer time to the devotees or the latter can set an alert on their mobiles which are ubiquitous nowadays.
There are any number of Quranic verses, like a few as under, calling for the maiming and killing of the non-believers (read non-Muslims) and it is left in the modern times to the leaders of that religion to ask their flock not to go any longer by these diktats of dark ages and that they are now outdated.
“Therefore, the curse of Allah is upon the unbelievers!” (2:89)
“Fight against them (unbelievers) until there is no dissension, and the religion is for Allah.” Fight until no other religion exists but Islam. (2:193)
“Those who believe and migrated from their homes and fought for the Way of Allah, and those who have sheltered them and helped them they are truly the believers.” The jihad warriors are the true believers. (8:74)
“The unbelievers among the People of the Book and the idolaters shall be for ever in the fire of gehenna (hell). They are the worst of all creatures.” (98:6)
Sure, many Muslims in India may not be giving credence to the above injunctions and practising them. But the fanatic few who do take them literally cause an immense havoc and the explosive ripples are felt not only in India but across the world with scores of militant and terrorist organisations manufacturing the jihadists. Trying to gloss over these genocidal activities in the name of unemployment etc don’t wash at all, for a majority of the jihadists are an educated lot. The saner voices among Muslims are being throttled and silenced by the virulently obscurantist. By the same token, even the Hindus are not supposed to take the law into their hands.
Asaduddin Owaisi’s tears for the Dalits
Asaduddin Owaisi, the MIM chief, is endowed with the gift of gab but most of the time he squanders it for wrong causes. When he came back from his education in England, many hoped that he would steer clear of communal politics and lead the Muslims onto a modern path but these hopes have sadly been belied. Though his MIM is a chronic communal party he claims it to be a secular outfit. Most of the time he rakes up only communal questions and in his bid to drive a wedge among the Hindus he tries to flaunt his so-called solidarity with the Dalits but never explaining why the centuries old Muslim rule in the country had done no good to them. Anyway, there is a lot common between the Dalits and their Hindu brethren despite all the historical problems. And it is up to the Hindus themselves to embrace their Dalit brethren and make them feel at home. After all, what major commonalities are there between the Muslims and the Dalits except for raising volatile political bogies?
The convenient but illogical ‘Minority’ tag
Asaduddin’s bloated concern for the Muslim minority and his exaggeration and generalization of stray anti-Muslim incidents would not convince any impartial observers. If we go by the tone and frequency of anti-Hindu voices among some of the vocal Muslim leaders like Akbaruddin Owaisi (MIM-MLA) and Mohammad Azam Khan (SP-MP), anybody would agree that it is the Hindus who are at the receiving end in the country, but not the people of the second biggest religion in the world, i.e. Islam. Islam is spread across the continents in many countries, and wherever they are in minority they always fight for special rights to perpetuate their conspicuous identity all over. And wherever the Muslims are in majority, they treat the religious minorities as second class citizens. Just because Muslims are next only to Hindus in the country doesn’t mean that they can claim the minority tag. Muslims, the largest religious community in the country with a population of over 17 crores cannot cower like a minority, by any stretch of imagination. Compared to any caste group in the group, Muslims are more in number. If still Asaduddin and his ilk want exclusive rights for Muslims as a minority let him join hands with the Hindu minorities in Pakistan and Bangladesh and fight for the minority rights all over the world. Hindus who were about 9% of the post-partition time (West) Pakistan are now reduced to a mere 1%; and in East Pakistan (Bangladesh) they have dwindled from 25% to 9%. At the same time, the Muslim population in India has whopped to 14% from 9%.
Coming to Kashmir where Pakistan has succeeded in planting its secessionist-terrorist machinery, the Hindus/Pandits who are in minority over there have been hounded out of their homes and their properties have been usurped. Then where is the insecurity for – or discrimination against – the Muslims? If it still exists, it does for every community and caste. Further, Muslims have a share in every walk of life and occupied all the important positions in India except that of Prime Minister whereas in Pakistan the Hindus don’t count at all, having to eke out their existence in the threatening shade of a rabidly pro-Muslim theocracy; whereas in India, Muslims and other religious minorities have a secular umbrella and with special rights which are denied to the Hindu majority. And how long will leaders like Asaduddin harp on the backwardness and neglect of Muslims when their own community had ruled the country (including Telangana and Hyderabad) for a millennium? Is it not like wanting to eat the cake and have it too?!
A Brahmin-Bania party
Itching to take advantage of the caste-divide accentuated by the alien rulers in the country for over a millennium, Asaduddin Owaisi portrays the BJP as a Brahmin-Bania party. He conveniently forgets that the BJP is the largest political party in India (and in the world) and that it couldn’t have got to that level just with the support of the Brahmins & Banias whose population is very small. Asaduddin has to realise that the BJP is a product of an orchestrated onslaught on the Hindus for centuries in their own homeland. And what is his problem with the Brahmins & Banias? Are they villains? Are they terrorists? Are they secessionists? If yes, why could not the centuries old barbaric Muslim rule in India – or the continual secular governments – show them their place which is negligible anyway? Of course, the Muslim rulers did commit atrocities on Brahmins.
Inter-religious bonhomie can’t be a one-way traffic
That the Hindus are by nature eclectic and essentially secular is evident with many of them praying at Dargas, donning the Muslim caps, holding Iftar parties to their Muslim brethren and greeting them on every Muslim festival. Why don’t Owaisi (who claims to be secular) and his followers have a mind to greet the Hindus on their festivals? Why don’t they put on ‘tilak,’ symbolically at least on such occasions? Why don’t they join their Hindu brethren at temples? Why don’t they play Holi with their Hindu brethren? Why don’t the MIM workers erect water sheds etc for the people in processions like that of Ganesh Immersion? Why don’t they host the Ayyappa devotees during their 40-day period of vows? Should it always be a one-way traffic?
Owaisis and the Muslim poor
I also fail to understand when leaders like Asaduddin and his ilk claim that Islam is a religion of brotherhood and equality. If so, how come we see lots of Muslim beggars in every town and city? Why can’t the MIM and other Muslim socio-politico-religious outfits and wealthy Muslims rehabilitate the Muslim poor? What are they doing with the Zakat? And my question, in this regard, is equally applicable to my Christian friends when they claim an internal egalitarianism in contrast to the Hindu society.
The MIM along with a few other outfits poses as if it is the messiah of the Muslim masses and that it has been doing a lot for the Muslims’ education and health. Of course there is the palatial multi-storied Owaisi Hospital and Research Centre in Hyderabad, founded by Salahuddin Owaisi, MP (father of Asaduddin). But when it comes to the medical problems of the Owaisi family, they prefer other hospitals. Akbaruddin Owaisi (Asaduddin’s younger brother, and) an MIM MLA is notorious for his anti-Hindu spiels and has been embroiled in several police/court cases but the friendly TRS government has been trying its best to dilute or time-bar them. When injured in an attack by the goons of another Muslim outfit in the old city some eight years ago, this Akbaruddin got himself treated in Care Hospital, Hyderabad but not in his own family hospital. Likewise, he flew to London earlier this month for check-up/treatment for a couple of weeks. If a poor person has a similar health problem, can they afford to go abroad – I mean, irrespective of their religion or caste? The government needs to do something in this direction for equality of health care.
Asaduddin’s electoral challenge to Narendra Modi & Amit Shah
Many a leading political figure has their strong pocket boroughs where their win is a foregone conclusion. And there are some constituencies where the demographic equation favours only a particular party or candidate, no matter whether the party or the candidate is good or not. And the predominantly Muslim old city of Hyderabad is one such where Asaduddin Owaisi calls the shots, naturally. But his challenge to Narendra Modi or Amit Shah to contest from Hyderabad and test their popularity is a puerile prank and silly bravado. Narendra Modi or Amit Shah can easily contest and win from any of over 300 Lok Sabha constituencies but how many constituencies can Asaduddin Owaisi win from to prove his own popularity? And whenever a determined bid is made to free a constituency like Hyderabad from fanaticism and time-warp, a ‘secular’ and avowedly pro-minority Congress invariably puts up a Hindu candidate there, just to ensure the division of the Hindu vote and the victory of the MIM. It did happen when M Venkaiah Naidu, a strong candidate, was pitted against Salahuddin Owaisi, the founder of MIM and father of Asaduddin, a couple of decades ago. But for over a lakh Hindu votes taken away by Ponguleti Sudhakar Reddy, the Congress candidate, the win could have been of Venkaiah Naidu. It’s a different matter that the same Sudhakar Reddy is now with the BJP who joined it just before the recent Lok Sabha elections. Anyway, let Asaduddin know that one swallow doesn’t make a summer – that his old Hyderabad constituency is not the country.
MIM as KCR’s chosen Opposition
It’s a well-known fact that the KCR-led TRS and the Asaduddin-led MIM have been allies and continue to be so. In the 2018 assembly elections of Telangana – the TRS, the Congress, the MIM and the BJP won 88, 19, 7 and 1 seats respectively. Ever since the rout of UPA-II in 2014, KCR has been bent on erasing the Congress from the Telangana scene. At the same time, he doesn’t want to give any scope to the BJP to firm up its foothold. In order to achieve this he has entered into a political understanding with MIM and also declared that he and his friend Asaduddin Owaisi would tour across the country in separate helicopters to convince the people of a ‘secular’ federal front. To ensure at the same time that he doesn’t lose the Hindu votes because of his alliance with the communal MIM with its roots in the Razakar movement and atrocities, KCR has been indulging in a show of pompous Hindu rituals – worships and yagnas (Vedic rituals). Or to give him benefit of doubt, KCR may just be indulging in politics of convenience for the sake of power. He may be a good and devout Hindu for, after all, he is well-educated and knowledgeable with a love of culture and literature unlike the megalomaniac and supercilious N Chandra Babu Naidu, the former CM of AP who is now licking his wounds, utterly routed in the recent Assembly/Lok Sabha elections. Coming back to the Congress, KCR has, with his inherent Machiavellian smartness, managed to wean away as many as 13 of the 19 Congress MLAs into his TRS. And it resulted in Congress being left with just 6 MLAs, one short compared to the MIM which has 7 MLAs. And now Owaisi and KCR demand that MIM be made the recognised Opposition in the TS assembly. Though MIM doesn’t fulfil the criterion of having 10% of the total of 119 seats! A strong ally to don the role of Opposition but only to do the bidding of the ruling party! Even in the earlier assembly also, KCR emaciated the Congress and the TDP by netting their MLAs and leaders into his TRS.
Let dialogue and sanity prevail
Finally, Asaduddin Owaisi’s “Allaho Akbar” chant during his swearing-in as MP in the 17th Lok Sabha is aimed at being a communal provocation for he is not known for his spiritual credentials. In the same breath, I disapprove of the slogans invoking the sundry Hindu gods whoever of the BJP/Shiv Sena MPs raised them.
It would be sane and ideal if it is made mandatory for the MPs to swear in the name of either the Constitution or the ‘Almighty’ (or any equivalent universal divine term) and not by any specific god/goddess – Shiva or Vishnu; Durga or Lakshmi; Ganesha or Murugan or Hayagriva; Moses or Jesus; Allah or Khuda. After all, the Almighty in whatever form is conceived or perceived – would be happy.
And I yearn and pray for a dispassionate and objective discourse among the leaders of all the faiths concerned in the country and for eventual harmonization drawing on the many commonalities that exist across the board – where for every person and group the interests of the nation would reign supreme; and where we hear the resoundingly unanimous common voices but not a Babel of conflicting and cacophonous voices. Jai Hind!