Muslims must not let Hindutva hotheads push them into perpetual victimhood.
Hindutva activists may want to tear Muslims and Hindus apart through love jihad and ghar wapsi campaigns, but metropolitan middle-class Hindus thronged to see Haider, some even silently shed a tear for the Kashmiri Muslim hero. Jingoists may propagate violent rhetoric against Pakistan as a dog whistle for majoritarian nationalism, but PK, Raju Hirani’s clever comic caper lampooning Hindu godmen, is reportedly the biggest grosser in the history of Bollywood, and wild-eyed agitators for a ban on the film have been roundly outvoted by the vast majority of moviegoers.
Sadhvi Niranjan and Yogi Adityanath may conjure up hatred in the quest for votes, Muzaffarnagar riots may bring poll dividends, but from the ‘Khanate’ of Bollywood to the Hamid Ansari-led Rajya Sabha to India’s tennis torch-bearer Sania Mirza to business legends Yusuf Hamied and Azim Premji to the cricketing quicksilver of Zaheer Khan and the Pathan brothers, India’s exceptional Muslim citizens are icons whose achievements are proudly, subliminally claimed by Indian nationalism even if the ‘Muslim’ is apparently antithetical to it.
The rising star of ‘Muslim’ politics is now the rumbustious Asaduddin Owaisi, leader of MIM, the Hyderabad city MP, once dismissed as a ‘fringe’ element, but now positioning himself as a ‘national’ leader whose party rather impressively won two seats in the Maharashtra assembly elections, one more than Raj Thackeray’s MNS.
45-year-old Owaisi is fast becoming the Muslim opposite number to saffron politics, a claimant to being the sole spokesman who once warned of a ‘third wave of Muslim radicalisation’ after the Assam riots and whose intolerant cadres attacked Taslima Nasreen. Owaisi appeals massively to the young Muslim’s rage and victimhood, by projecting himself as the tough-talking saviour of his community.
In the emergence of Owaisi as sole spokesperson of the Indian Muslim lies a dilemma of the community: if the so-called mainstream ‘secular’ parties will not address their concerns, if BJP will be seen to deny them representation, then why not turn to a politician who is openly promising to promote ‘Muslim’ interests?
The 16th Lok Sabha has the lowest number of Muslims ever since the first general elections of 1952. There are just 24 Muslim MPs, down from 30 in the previous Lok Sabha, who constitute just 4.4% of the House. For the first time in an Indian Parliament there’s not a single Muslim MP from UP, as BJP did not field a single Muslim candidate across the vast swathes of north and west India except for the sole exception of Shahnawaz Hussain.
Beyond the yelling bigots, there’s a silent more welcoming truth: Indian Muslims would not be the second largest community in the world, if the true Hindu was anti-Muslim
Remember, "Jo Daar Gaya Woh Mandir Gaya"?