New possibilities in Bahujan politics

Discussion in 'Politics & Society' started by Vishwarupa, Dec 2, 2014.

  1. Vishwarupa

    Vishwarupa Senior Member Senior Member

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    Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen’s Bahujan plank can change elitist intolerance towards Muslims

    Poverty, stigma, exclusion, violence are terms that come up during discussions on the status of Dalits. Recently, however, these have come to better describe another community: Muslims. Exclusion from higher education, government jobs, violence and normalised social disgust affecting Indian Muslims has generated enough scholarship. The state has also recognised their exclusion.

    Both the Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) claim to be concerned about the welfare of Muslims as long as Muslims do not claim their rights as Muslims. Both parties prefer them to be docile recipients of their concern — even the Narendra Modi government may not stop the subsidy for Haj. However, they expect Muslims to not take pride in their Muslimness, or link their citizenship claims to Muslimness, even as Hindus have done so. Despite there theoretically existing a ‘secular’ state since 1950, Sanskritic Hinduism has imprinted itself on the public sphere well before the Dinanath Batras and Smriti Iranis came to hold the reins — in police stations and government offices Hindu symbols have dominated; a statue of Manu adorns the forefront of the Jaipur High Court; new trains are flagged off with the breaking of coconuts; Brahmin priests perform bhumi pujas at almost every public-funded construction. Why, for the success of the recent Mars mission, even the ISRO chief K. Radhakrishnan sought the blessings of the Lord of Tirupati.

    Muslim assertion

    It is in this context that we need to see the rise of Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (MIM) under Asaduddin Owaisi, Member of Parliament, outside of the party’s home turf in Telangana. The party fielded 24 candidates, including three Dalits, in the recent Maharashtra Assembly elections. Though many of them were debutants, two of them won, three finished as runners-up, and eight candidates took the third place. In some places, even the losing candidates fared better than the Nationalist Congress Party/Congress contestants, with MIM polling over half a million votes. The stated purpose of MIM, to serve Muslim interests with an assertive Muslim identity, is being seen as reactionary, or more precisely anti-Hindu. It seems so to most commentators, reporters and ‘secularists’ of even the Left. Was MIM’s success in Maharashtra, which it hopes to soon replicate in Uttar Pradesh, Delhi and West Bengal, based only on anti-Hindu rhetoric?

    Given the resurgence of Hindutva, Mr. Owaisi and MIM may not be anti-Hindu but they surely perform pro-Muslimness best, by underscoring the need for Muslims to vote and elect their true representative through MIM. Mr. Owaisi speaks of education, poverty, and the arrests facing Muslims, and of the need for them to claim their citizenship dues under the rubric of the Constitution. For the secularists who suggest we think of all the poor as one class, MIM appears to mirror the BJP on a smaller scale with Muslims in control. Not quite though. MIM could well steal the Bahujan Samaj Party’s thunder, what with Mr. Owaisi almost talking the ‘Bahujan’ language of Kanshi Ram of 1990s during the post-Babri, post-Mandal phase. After tasting success in Maharashtra, Mr. Owaisi was reported saying, “We have succeeded in creating a platform for the unity of Muslims and Dalits and Other Backward Classes across the nation to raise their voices against the injustice they have been facing from the so-called secular parties.”

    “MIM could well steal the Bahujan Samaj Party’s thunder, with Asaduddin Owaisi almost talking the ‘Bahujan’ language of Kanshi Ram of 1990s”

    In Maharashtra, MIM managed to coin a new and interesting slogan: ‘Jai Meem and Jai Bheem’— Meem here standing for Muslim, with a pun of course on MIM. While undermining the expediency of Mayawati’s Dalit-Brahmin plank in 2007, this comes as a refreshing contrast to the Shiv Sena push in the 1980s for the coming together of Shiv Shakti and Bhim Shakti, that is of Hindus and Dalits, when the latter, in the post-Buddhist, post-Republican Party of India phase, had come to be wooed by the ascendant Shiv Sena in the State. The growth of MIM today is happening at a time when we have reports of how the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh-BJP combine and its various arms are ‘Hinduising’ the Dalits to engineer full-fledged communal violence between Hindus and Muslims.

    Embedded in MIM’s rhetoric are Muslim claims for social justice and citizenship. Whenever elite Indians see social justice and citizenship claims interspersed with assertions of identity, they are quick to label such political sentiments as anti-national. However, issues of inequality and justice remain intertwined with the question of social and religious identity.

    Dalits may still be facing considerable indignities, violence, exclusion and humiliation had it not been for Ambedkar’s politics of identity that created possibilities of justice and equality. If Ambedkar had not carved the space for an independent Dalit politics, outside of the Congress-Gandhi-Hindu fold in pre-independence India, Dalits would have gained none of the rights and entitlements they enjoy today.

    Purposive identity politics

    This is not to undermine Ambedkar’s other significant contributions towards nation-building. At the same time, we need to see his espousal of identity politics as a significant contribution to the nation-building process. After all, he saw India as “congeries of communities”; the very existence of the hierarchical caste system made this a society of teeming minorities. It is the assertion of such multiple and diverse identities, and their claims to justice, that laid the grounds for substantial political and social equality.

    Ambedkar, thus, has now come to represent ideas of liberation, justice, and most importantly, hope in constitutional democracy. This calls for a purposive politics that discards assimilation and celebrates plurality of identities from the standpoint of those in the margins. However, such resistance to assimilation is generally portrayed as anti-national by the mainstream elites. When Arun Shourie wrote a full volume on Ambedkar’s ‘betrayal’ of (the Hindu) nation in his Worshipping False Gods (1997), his argument was no different from what the Congress and the ‘pro-nationalist’ press said of Ambedkar in the 1930s.

    Ambedkar, however, swam against the assimilating currents that threatened to sweep away the margins. That is why he converted to Buddhism, along with over half a million followers. He administered specific vows to his followers to distinguish them from the Hindu mainstream. The making of Dalits as a political community distinct from Hindus — “a part apart” — was thus an important part of the Dalit claim to equality and citizenship.

    If excessive poverty persists amongst Muslims, coupled with everyday discrimination, what is so wrong about framing Muslim identity as one of exclusion and staking claim to social justice? The MIM may well be on the path of instilling belief in the Constitution and democracy among Muslims despite their excessive deprivations. After the historical blunder of Mohammad Ali Jinnah, Muslims may have finally found their idea of Ambedkar in Barrister Owaisi — for, after all, he often spoke of the violence faced by Dalits more than candidates of other parties dared to do.

    If the idea of MIM’s Muslim-led Bahujan plank swells, it has the potential of both transforming elitist intolerance towards Muslims and more importantly igniting newer possibilities in Bahujan politics.

    (Suryakant Waghmore is the author of Civility Against Caste and S. Anand is publisher, Navayana)

    New possibilities in Bahujan politics - The Hindu

    Owais is very cunning, with his guile he is adding dalits votes ot MIM. Hope he is aware that that dalits are part of Hindu religion & will remain to be Hindus. He is trying to break the hindu society & garner their support. BJP or other national parties should involve more dalits & should work towards their uplliftment.
     
    Last edited: Dec 2, 2014
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  3. Ray

    Ray The Chairman Defence Professionals Moderator

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    If Muslims find exclusion from higher education, government jobs, and are in the midst of violence and normalised social disgust, who is responsible for the same?

    While the liberal Goody Two Shoes drawing room chatterati and spinmeisters of the media are engrossed in wailing the misfortunes of the Muslims in India, a country that has myriad manifestations of Hindu symbolism, should they not also look beyond as to why the Muslims suffer the same fate in countries, these 'intellectuals' find as the moral compass?

    How is it that the Muslims in Christian or even call it secular UK trail all communities in the same areas they do in India. Are the British denying Muslims their rightful place and opportunities? How is that the other Indian origin communities are leading the pack, to include the whites, in countries like UK and the US? Are they being given greater opportunities than the Muslims? That sure is something to mull over before cursing India of depriving any community or religious group their share of the sun.

    If one is drowning in medieval shackles that are reactionary that prevent integration into contemporary society in a seamless manner, then how can the Govt or the country be blamed?

    It is true that in police stations and government offices Hindu symbols have dominated; a statue of Manu adorns the forefront of the Jaipur High Court; new trains are flagged off with the breaking of coconuts; Brahmin priests perform bhumi pujas at almost every public-funded construction. Why, for the success of the recent Mars mission, even the ISRO chief K. Radhakrishnan sought the blessings of the Lord of Tirupati. But then don't Muslims start their activities with a Bismillahir Rahmanir Rahim?

    If ISRO chief K. Radhakrishnan sought the blessings of the Lord of Tirupati, he must have been overtaken with joy and relief to invoke his God publicly. Who should he have thanked? Karl Marx? Further, it is a Hindu affliction to pray or bow before Gods of all religion. In fact, there is a Mazar (which rumour has was constructed secretly after given it a holy spin. basically to grab that vacant land and make some money through the alms dropped) next to my house and it is bowed to my most folks who pass that way and what is more, women in total Hindu accoutrements light candles and diyas. Are they Muslims? No. Therefore, being religions and invoking their God should not be taken to be a crass socio religious blasphemy. Tirupati has significance in South India, but in Bengal obeisance is paid when one goes there only because it is famous. Rarely does one see the photo of Tirupati in a Bengali home. So, ISRO chief K. Radhakrishnan sought the blessings of the Lord of Tirupati who is basically the Supreme in South India from where he comes.

    The issues of inequality and justice remain intertwined with the question of social and religious identity because it has been politically manufactured and given credence and such communities encouraged to feel so and kept in that state inspite of much lip service to their upliftment. Further, if one does not want to progress, nothing can make them do so. One can take a horse to water, but one can;t make it drink.

    Have people thought that though the Bohras are possibly the most conservative of all Muslims are never found to be wailing about lack of inequality and justice? They don't wail because they work, earn and a busy with their lives and have no desire to live or ask for Govt handouts and doles. They are hard-working and they look after themselves and have integrated into society, while still preserving their religious identity.

    Same is the case of the Christian, Parsis or the Jains. Not all are educated or rich and so they should also grouse about social inequality and injustice, but they don't. Why? Because they do not demand special privileges and handouts and alms from the Govt and they realise that inequality and lack of justice is not solely their misfortune, but that of all people of India, be they Hindu, Christian, Jain, Parsi or Muslim and that to progress, they have to do it themselves like any other Indian.

    The fashion amongst the media and the chatterati to deify national leaders as if they were in heaven and could do no wrong, is the most reprehensible act.

    If Ambedkar espoused identity politics as a significant contribution to the nation-building process as the author wishes us to believe, then it was the worst thing that happened since identity politics is what is gnawing the entrails of this country and making it sick.

    One has to build a national identity if a nation has to be cohesive and progress. It cannot be a mish mash of identities hoping for the Holy Grail to be discovered.

    As I see it, there is just one identity - Indian.
     
  4. Mad Indian

    Mad Indian Proud Bigot Veteran Member Senior Member

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    What a stupid article. Of course India will have Sanskritical base as oppsoed to urdu shit. Was that not the point of Two nation theory. What they ---- are they meaning by the muslimness?? All the muslimms who want to show their muslimness are welcome to go to pakistan, which was created for the specific purpose of Indian muslimness.
     
    Free Karma likes this.
  5. LordOfTheUnderworlds

    LordOfTheUnderworlds Regular Member

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    Crude propaganda sponsored by a communal Razakar party (or their backers) that is getting Shaikhchilli dreams of expanding its votebank just because it got votes in some muslim ghettos that probably have a local reputation of 'mini pakistan'? Or are the writers plain crazy.

    Of all the social groups, dalits would be among the last to vote for muslim parties. Only people living in ivory towers with no touch to ground reality will expect that.
    In general, especially in villages and small towns, lower caste areas are the ones that are near the Muslim majority areas. In case of any riots they are the ones to be in line of fire first and suffer most. With any hint of communal Hindu-Muslim politics, they would be the first to feel insecure.
     
  6. Ray

    Ray The Chairman Defence Professionals Moderator

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    Urdu formed from Khariboli—a Prakrit, or vernacular, spoken in North India—by adding Persian and Arabic words to it. Contrary to the widely held misconception it is not formed in the camp of the Mughal armies.

    The Mughal Empire's official language was Persian. With the advent of the British Raj Persian language was replaced by the Hindustani written in the Persian script and this script was used by both Hindus and Muslims.

    From the 13th century until the end of the 18th century Urdu was commonly known as Hindi. The language was also known by various other names such as Hindavi and Dehlavi. Urdu was promoted in British India by British policies to counter the previous emphasis on Persian.

    Pakistan hijacked it as a Muslim language.
     

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