CAA protests: Owaisi caught between a rock and a hard place

There is a general perception that he would spoil the communal amity and harmony if he visits any place where the movement is going on

AIMIM president Asaduddin Owaisi (file photo)
AIMIM president Asaduddin Owaisi (file photo)

Soroor Ahmed

The man who tore the Citizenship Amendment Bill in Lok Sabha on Dec 9 is finding it difficult to piece together his future plan of action as his strategy has gone haywire.

The on-going sit-ins, street protests and other way of registering opposition to the CAA, NPR and NRC have  exposed the president of All India Majlis-e-Ittehad-ul-Muslimeen, Asaduddin Owaisi, a self-proclaimed leader of the community. Barring his home turf of Hyderabad, he could not be seen anywhere in the country whether it's Jamia Millia Islamia, Shaheen Bagh, Aligarh Muslim University, Jawharlal Nehru University, Mangalore, Bangalore, Mumbai, towns and cities of UP, West Bengal, Assam, Bihar etc.

Yes, he did address several election meetings in Jharkhand in Dec 2019 and another in Kishanganj in Bihar later that month, but the nature of those rallies were different.

In the election campaign in Jharkhand he was more critical of Congress and NCP joining hands with Shiv Sena. He kept charging secular parties of making a compromise with communal outfits.

As he has little to say now when the same Shiv Sena changed its stand on the CAA –– something very surprising and unusual in itself –– he seems to have lost the plot.

There is no denying the fact that had Shiv Sena been in alliance with the BJP nobody would have dared to so openly protest against the CAA-cum-NRC in Mumbai and other places in Maharashtra. Now the same Congress and NCP are getting kudos for bringing about this change in Shiv Sena’s attitude.

What is more surprising is that Owaisi’s alliance partner, Telangana Rashtriya Samiti, which voted against the enactment of CAA in Parliament is yet to speak anything against the NRC, which has been opposed even by the BJP’s alliance partners like Nitish Kumar’s Janata Dal United as well as Andhra Pradesh’s chief minister Jagan Mohan Reddy.

It remained a mystery as to why Owaisi is not putting much pressure on TRS leader and the state CM, K Chandrashekar Rao. Instead he is still busy flaying the secular parties.

Now, it is his compulsion to speak against the BJP. However, there is no dearth of people like Faisal Husain -- a resident of Shaheen Bagh who teaches Physics -- who feel that it is good Owaisi is not coming here. There is a general perception that he would spoil the communal amity and harmony once he comes to any such place where the movement is going on.

He played dirty politics in his own constituency, Hyderabad. When the Joint Action Committee, a group comprising several organisations, on Dec 28 gave a call for a Million March on Jan 4 he suddenly gave a similar call on the same day. He organised another show of strength in Hyderabad on Jan 10 and plans a couple of other such programmes in the near future. With the help of the government in which AIMIM is a partner Owaisi tried to disrupt the Million March. The organisers had to move High Court in this regard. A similar obstacle was created in Kanhaiya Kumar’s rally in Hyderabad.

But the big question is: why is Owaisi not coming out of his shell? Even in Kishanganj, where the local social activists have now organized a Shaheen Bagh type sit-in to protest against CAA, the AIMIM tried to hijack it as if it was its show. Congress MP, Mohammad Jawed, and the leader of Opposition in the state Assembly, Tejashwi Prasad Yadav addressed it on different days. It is another thing that the Bihar unit president of AIMIM Akhtar-ul-Imam, who is incidentally from Kishanganj, also attended the sit-in.

The answer to Owaisi’s dilemma is simple: as he cannot get any BJP vote he is bound to attack the secular parties to seek his own pound of flesh. But this time he was caught between the devil and the deep sea like situation as the people on their own took initiative; it left the self-proclaimed leaders of the community high and dry. Secondly, the nature of protest was not confined to Muslims––though in the beginning they come out in large numbers in several places––and as such there was little scope left for the likes of Owaisi.

Even on the issue of scoring political brownie point Owaisi was stumped by Indian Union Muslim League which immediately moved court after the enactment of the CAA.

Some youths of the Muslim community who were looking towards AIMIM with a little bit of hope are now a dismayed lot as the same secular parties have––may be not in full force––jumped to support the movement. Prominent Opposition faces are attending these sit-in protests largely organised by the people on their own. For example, in Bihar, Tejashwi is attending all the protest sit-ins especially in Seemanchal belt which has substantial Muslim votes and which AIMIM has been eyeing.

Finding itself cornered, the AIMIM rank and file across the country are busy spreading confusion among Muslims. With the help of social media they are accusing the secular parties of doing nothing against CAA-NPR-NRC. The truth is that they are very much active; it is AIMIM which is doing nothing.

Views are personal and not that of National Herald

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Published: 22 Jan 2020, 8:14 PM