Deconstructing the hate politics of Owaisi brothers

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The capital of Andhra Pradesh is a three-city entity. Hyderabad and Secundrabad have history and well documented but what is not physically demarcated but is a ground reality is the third city under Owaisi brothers.

Asaduddin Owaisi and his younger brother Akbaruddin have carved out a fiefdom in Darusalam, not far from the seat of power in Hyderabad, which they want to occupy. Their party Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (MIM) was founded in late 1920s on the principals of separate state and patronised by the Nizam.

Their father Sultan Salahuddin Owaisi, who was a six-time MP and grandfather Abdul Wahed Owaisi were presidents of MIM. The family has laid claims to represent 80 lakh Muslims in Andhra Pradesh, particularly the Old City of Hyderabad. The electoral fortunes of MIM clearly say something else. They had four in 2004 and now seven seats in Assembly.

Charminar in Hyderabad

The MIM, which became full political party in 1960 when Salahuddin became corporator of Mallepally, the growth has not been spectacular but the Owaisi family has at least become a kingmaker. Currently, it has the mayorship of Hyderabad and fighting hard to retain it as capital of a state it wants - the Rayalatelangana.

The MIM wants a greater Telangana with few districts of Rayalseema added to form Rayalatelangana. In case separate Telangana and Seemandhra are formed, the clout of the Owaisi brothers will hit rockbottom or reduced to their imaginary fiefdom. But sizable Muslim population in four districts if Rayalaseema will give them bargaining power and remain dominant political group of minority community.

And to remain relevant in flux Andhra Pradesh politics the Owaisi brothers need to shout, rant and threaten. Akbaruddin, who has been Legislator since 1999, went vitriolic in Nirmal town of Adilabad in Telegana. Seeing a responsive crowd of 25000 would have made any seasoned politician go overboard with populism but Akbar, forgetting his namesake emperor's secular philosophy, spoke more like small trader losing his shop to modern development. The MLA thought the crowd was his army of butchers and said "the 25 crore Muslims in India can take care of the 100 crore Hindus if the police stayed away for fifteen minutes."

You do not build vote banks by killing or issuing threats. Narendra Modi, who was also the target of Akbaruddin's attack, has won over his voters with development.

Akbar has been accused of making several such provocative speeches in the past but at least he needs to learn from his brother Asaduddin, who cultivates a cunning sophistication, vote politics and remains a Muslim face on television channels.

Asaduddin has embarked on a tour of Telangana and Rayalseema from December first week to consolidate his voters after 'talaq' from Congress and have say in Telangana formation. Owaisi and United Muslim Action Commitee began their tour in Nizamabad last month.

During his tour spread over several months, Owaisi will also travel to Rayalaseema areas such as Adoni and Kadapa and Vijayawada in Andhra. The UMAC has traditionally supported the Congress and it consists of religious leaders cutting across sects and schools of thought. It is led by Abdul Rahim Qureshi, who is also the secretary of the All India Muslim Personal Law Board.

The brothers, whose age difference is just over a year, differ on political strategy. While Asaduddin, 43, says YSRC chief Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy is his friend and Chief Minister N. Kiran Kumar Reddy was his friend, for Akbaruddin "MIM's doors are open to all the parties. When time comes, MIM will tell the Muslims which candidate and party to vote for," the 42-year-old younger brother says. Both the brothers are well educated with the elder brother married twice and the younger brother's wife is Christian convert.

With such a background and having witnessed development of Hyderabad as IT city, Akbaruddin's hate speech of last month seems to been manufactured for political purpose as it came during the 20th anniversary of demolition and Mumbai riots this month. In his speech Akbar Owaisi justified the Mumbai bombings of 1993 by saying they were a reaction to the demotion of Babri Masjid.

He made several derogatory comments against Hindu deity Rama and his mother Kaushalya. Questioning the birth and the birthplace of Rama, Owaisi asked "where all did Kaushalya go to give birth to Rama and where all did Rama take birth". Owaisi also mocked Hindu panentheism saying Hindus have many gods and goddesses, and every eight days, new gods keep coming up. In a reference to the Bhagyalakshmi temple controversy in Hyderabad, he said, "we knew about Lakshmi, but who is Bhagyalakshmi, we are not aware."

Akbaruddin Owaisi, who is the managing director of Owaisi hospital, is currently in London for medical treatment. He suffered grievous injuries during on his life in May 2011 when four persons associated with property dealer Mohammed Phelwan attacked him over a property dispute. He was stabbed and shot thrice.

In 2007, along with other elected and serving members of his party, Akbaruddin had made death threats against Tasleema Nasreen pledging that the fatwa against her and Salman Rushdie were to be carried.

Not to be left behind, Asaduddin, a barrister trained in London, threatened in the Parliament that "if proper rehabilitation does not take place,you be ready for a third wave of radicalization among Muslim youth." His unparliamentary speech was made in Lok Sabha in August last during a debate on Assam communal strife.

Only educated Muslims, whose literacy level is around 68 percent (national rate 74 percent), can offer answers to puzzling and ranting Owaisi brothers brand of politics.

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