Actions, not speeches are important

By Soroor Ahmed,,

Actions speak louder than words, goes the saying. This is truer in case of serious politics.

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But there is a general weakness––especially among Muslims––to be carried away by the rhetoric. Very often people fail to understand the real politics of demagogues. Right from Mohammad Ali Jinnah to Asaduddin Owaisi––with Syed Shahabuddin in the middle –– a section of the elite and youths get influenced by the oratory skill of the leader. In case of Shahabuddin, at least, it was more his writing skill than speeches, which helped him rise in politics.

Asaduddin Owaisi’s August 16 public rally in Kishanganj

If Jinnah committed horrible blunder which led to the partition of India –– and 24 years later the country he created –– Shahabuddin failed to appreciate the demand of the situation. Owaisi is no match to the intellectual level of the above two and it seems that he has not learnt from the mistakes they committed.

Jinnah was fluent in English, and could hardly speak Urdu, the language of majority of Muslims of the sub-continent––his mother tongue was Gujarati. Yet it goes to the credit of his admirers to become his fan without ever understanding his real message. It is a topic of further research as to how his followers––90 per cent of them never understood his English––agreed to his call of partition of the country.
Perhaps the mentality then was that everything said in English is all right, and should be blindly followed. About two centuries of British influence might have conditioned the mind.
At the fag end of his movement Jinnah complained about ‘moth-eaten’ Pakistan, which he later wished to be a secular country. He failed to appreciate how badly things went wrong. From the best ambassador of Hindu-Muslim unity he ended up becoming the Father of separate Pakistan.
His apologists would argue that he actually fell into the trap laid by some Congress leaders. Even if this is true, the fault is in him: was he really so naïve?

Jinnah’s failure is a lesson for posterity. Though not all Muslims supported him, but he let down everyone in the sub-continent –– even those who opposed him.
But Jinnah’s era was different. There was no TV, no information technology revolution, no NRIs––many of whom having no idea about what is actually happening in the country yet would relish in floating fantastic and rubbish ideas on social media.

For them delivering a tit-for-tat speech in Parliament or in a TV studio is the only criteria for being a good leader––even if what is said in them may be half-truths or exaggerations. One must understand how and why the media give publicity to any individual at any point of time.

For example it must be investigated as to why Asaduddin Owaisi –– once again another barrister––started getting much more space in national media after November 12, 2012 when his party parted ways from Congress. This is so notwithstanding the fact that he has been an MP since 2004 and MLA since 1994.

Politics cannot be separated from action. How can one justify his defence of his brother, who is nothing short of rabble-rouser? Is not it a fact that he and his party All India Majlis-e-Ittehad-ul-Muslimeen do not tolerate dissent even in Old Hyderabad?

There is no place for such dangerous politics in India, not even in Old Hyderabad. He may be surviving in the walled city of Telangana’s capital because it is a Muslim dominated pocket. Otherwise, political obituary of the Owaisi family would have been written long back.

Those who nurse such views need to be told that in a democracy number matters and a minority can not only survive––but can even exert influence or create pressure without forming any separate party. The example of Jews in the United States, where there is two-party system––and little scope for forming smaller parties––can be cited, though many would not accept it because of entirely different situation.

Why go elsewhere, but confine to multi-party India. By forming social alliance with regional parties Muslims have increased their representation in UP, West Bengal and Bihar––much more than many other states.

At least one data is enough to cancel out the effect of propaganda of discrimination. Is not it a fact that in 2012 out of 72 who qualified for the MBBS test of AIIMS 12 were Muslims, mostly girls––several of them among the toppers and in the general list. A number of them ended up as gold medallists.

What needs to be told to Owaisi and his Bihar president, Akhtar-ul-Iman is that the discrimination theory should not be blown out of proportion. One wrong decision may make or mar the prospect of any leader. Owaisi played such a politics in Maharashtra that yielded no good for the Muslims.

What he did in Bihar is something shocking. For a month he kept parroting that his party would be contesting 24 seats, but managed to get just six candidates. How can a leader go for electoral battle without ever doing his home-work? Has any party in the history of independent India made such a faux pas in the middle of the battle?

Perhaps Owaisi is not aware that two-thirds of the 24 Assembly segments of Seemanchal are not Muslim-dominated as he and his party men tried to project. The truth is that barring Kishanganj Muslims are in minority in the rest three districts, though they have a sizeable population. Districts like Sheohar, Khagaria, Madhepura (all outside Seemanchal)––all Hindu dominated––are equally––or in some cases more backward and flood-prone. Majlis leaders try to befool the people by highlighting selective and outdated data.

Now Owaisi’s supporters are feeling cheated. A sizeable number of them who were rooting for him till recently have started suspecting him as a BJP agent as alleged by many of his opponents. AIMIM may have to pay a heavy price for this political blunder. It’s likely plan to contest West Bengal and Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections in 2016 and 2017 respectively lies shattered.
Instead of a “Hawa-baaz” (windbag) what Muslims in India need is a statesman.

(Soroor Ahmed is a Patna-based freelance journalist. He writes on political, social, national and international issues.)