By Dr. Javed Jamil
On the one hand, Bihar elections have brought renewed focus on Assaduddin Owaisi, and on the other hand, many are blaming him for ensuring the defeat of MGB. This may be true in short term, but may herald a long term revival of minorities as a political and social force in the country. “Secular” parties may love to call him a B team of BJP, but will soon realise that without taking Muslims seriously and without understanding Owaisi phenomenon,, they cannot hope to challenge the Communal forces in near future. Owaisi is no longer confined to Telangana and a pocket in Maharashtra. After Bihar, his new destinations are surely to be UP and Bengal.
Bihar may appear to be a big victory for BJP. But my inner feeling is that it will prove short lived. Sooner than later, efforts will begin to snatch Chief Ministership from Nitish. The party members of Nitish may have already started realising that they have two options: either to join BJP rather than remaining in JUD, or to join MGB. This can break the party, and then new alienations will start. Nitish may himself realize that one reason for his downfall in Bihar has been the anger he caused among Muslims by joining BJP. And of course, Tejaswai will leave no effort in trying to break the JUD.
What I have found most pleasing in my calculation is the coming together of Owaisi and Mayawati. This may signal big upheaval in coming UP elections. It was about 5 years back that Owaisi invited me to his Delhi residence for a discussion. I urged him to try to align with Dalits and impressed upon him the need to have talks with Maywati. He then sent signals to Mayawati but at that time, Mayawati did not look interested. But now, she too must have realised that for her to survive in UP, Owaisi can be a big factor. Again, this may help the BJP to regain UP. But if Mayawati-Owaisi combination can take a lead in taking Congress and SP along, with the sole aimed of defeating BJP, this may be the beginning of the fall of BJP. Even otherwise, if BSP, Congress and SP fight separately, nothing can prevent Yogi to win again. But at least in that case, Mayawati-Owaisi combination can send more candidates to the Assembly with some increase in the number of Muslim MLAs.
Parties like Congress, SP, RJD and Mamata in Bengal will now definitively be having a relook into their attitude towards Owaisi. These parties have two options. First is to try to isolate him by taking more concrete steps for the betterment of Muslim community. Second is to try to have an alliance with him. Both ways, it can be good for the country as a whole, and more so for Muslims. What Owaisi needs to do is to continue his efforts to woo Dalit leaders, especially the emerging new one from my city Saharanpur, Chandrashekhar, and of course Mayawati.
Muslims need not feel jolted due to the Bihar results. It has signalled new realities and the new possibilities.