Who is Congress to dictate terms to Ambedkar over his alliance with Asaduddin Owaisi
By asking Prakash Ambedkar to shun ties with Asaduddin Owaisi, the Maharashtra Congress leaders have unmasked for yet another time their anti-Muslim face
The Maharashtra Congress leaders after a meeting with the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) last week reiterated that the party is open to alliance with Bharipa Bahujan Mahasangh (BBM) of Prakash Ambedkar. But, they said, the alliance is possible only after Ambedkar parts ways with All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) of Asaduddin Owaisi.
The condition imposed by the Maharashtra Congress leaders is not only bizarre, but also against all democratic and political norms. In democracy a political party is free to have alliances and tie-ups with any party it wants. For your own benefit, you can’t ask a party to break an already existing alliance. By asking Ambedkar to shun ties with Asaduddin Owaisi, the Maharashtra Congress leaders have unmasked for yet another time their anti-Muslim face.
The meeting Congress held with the NCP was to discuss formation of a secular alliance before the 2019 general and state elections to stop BJP and Shiv Sena from retaining power. If the Congress and NCP leaders were indeed serious in their intention to defeat BJP and Shiv Sena, and stop division of secular votes, like Prakash Ambedkar, they should also have expressed willingness to tie up with Asaduddin Owaisi, and for the similar reasons, with Maharashtra Samajwadi Party (SP) which is led by Abu Asim Azmi in the state.
The argument that Asaduddin Owaisi’s AIMIM is communal has no merit as the Congress had alliance with the former for years – both at the centre and in the state. So when the Congress had alliance with the AIMIM in the past why can’t now? Is this because Owaisi is making inroads in the constituencies Congress considers its bastions? If this is true, then the Congress as a political party is not at fault and it is quite natural for it to worry about its support base if it is slipping in any way. But, instead of using undemocratic means to stop political opponents, the Congress should introspect to try and find out why people like Asaduddin Owaisi and Abu Asim Azmi are actually rising as leaders and being preferred over Congress and NCP nominees and supporters.
The Congress is fully aware of its shortcomings, rather its crimes, as long as Muslims are concerned. BJP and other opposition parties accuse Congress of using Muslims as a vote bank. Their allegations are not wrong. But, the problem with the Congress is that it is using Muslims merely as a vote bank – not willing to give back even their basic constitutional rights in exchange of their support. It has been long held Congress policy – come to power with Muslim support but don’t empower them in any way. If needed, go and use them as a punching bag and never allow them equal rights as citizens so that they remain at the loggerheads, live in fear and forced to extend their support to the Congress – blindly and without asking anything in return.
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So Congress gets alarmed, and panicked, every time a political alternative emerges in Muslim constituencies. The Congress has always used all its power to finish off such an alternative. Recently, it did the same with Badruddin Ajmal Qasmi’s AIUDF. An alliance with AIUDF could have easily stopped BJP from coming to power in Assam after the last state elections. But, in that case AIUDF could have also consolidated its support base, something Congress never wanted in its long political history. Hence, it was OK for the Congress if BJP came to power in Assam. But AIUDF’s gain was unacceptable for it. Lest it becomes an example for Muslims in other parts of the country.
Likewise, Asaduddin Owaisi’s AIMIM was secular as long as he had limited itself to Old City of Hyderabad. But, as soon as the AIMIM tried to expand its wings to other parts of the country, it became communal an untouchable. Congress also has a habit of labelling its opponents capable of challening its monopoly over Muslim votes as BJP agents. So, for Congress Asaduddin Owaisi is not only communal but he is also a BJP agent. In the similar manner, the Congress had labelled Muslim candidates of Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) as BJP agents in the 2014 General Elections.
I have my own reservations about the political style of Asaduddin Owaisi and his AIMIM. As a concerned citizen, I am also opposed to replying BJP’s rhetorics in the same cheap language, especially in the prevailing volatile situation. But, by forming the alliance with Prakash Ambedkar, Asaduddin Owaisi has indeed done a good job. This is a move which was necessary to teach Congress a lesson. A strong Dalit and Muslim alliance means Congress is losing its traditional, and untroubling, support base. It is out of this fear that Congress is forcing Prakash Ambedkar to shun ties with Owaisi. All talks of secularism and mission to defeat BJP and Shiv Sena are mere eyewash and cover up.[The writer, Aleem Faizee, is founder editor of ummid.com. He was poll strategist of Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) candidate in Malegaon during the 2014 Lok Sabha elections.]
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