Asaduddin Owaisi Is Much More Than A 'Muslim Politician'

Nikhila Henry

HYDERABAD, Telangana — When the first session of the 17th Session of the Lok Sabha opens for business on June 17, the All India Majis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) will be represented by two members of parliament for the first time in a storied history dating back to 1927.

One face, that of Asaduddin Owaisi the AIMIM president and four time MP from Hyderabad, shall be no surprise. The other face, Syed Imtiaz Jaleel from Aurangabad who won by a narrow margin of 4,492 votes thanks to an alliance with Prakash Ambedkar’s Vanchit Bahujan Aghadi, is the first measurable victory in Owaisi’s attempt to broaden his party’s appeal beyond the Muslim community in Telangana.

Earlier this month, the AIMIM which has seven MLAs had become the de facto opposition party in the Telangana state legislature after 12 of the Congress’s 18 MLAs defected to the ruling Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS).

These developments were the first concrete steps in Owaisi’s ambitious plan to chart a national course for the AIMIM — one that leverages the party’s following in the Muslim community to build alliances with other socially marginalised groups like the Dalit and Bahujan communities.

The AIMIM’s gains come at a time when the Muslim community is amidst a crisis of political representation. With national and regional parties wilting in the face of the BJP’s orchestrated politics of religious polarisation, only 22 of 543 members of Parliament were Muslim; five years later their numbers have increased marginally to 27.

In this crisis, Owaisi, a London-educated Barrister of Law, sees an opportunity for the community to evolve a broad-based politics of its own.

“The Muslim community will have to actively participate in making alliances with socially disadvantageous groups whether they are the Dalits or Other Backward Classes,” Owaisi said in a recent interview with HuffPost India. “That is the only way forward because we must realise and come out of this comfort zone that the...

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