In this Post-Modern world it is really difficult to argue with and convince those who are still living in the Stone Age. Almost a fortnight after the announcement of Bihar Assembly election results the hard-core supporters of the AIMIM (All India Majlis-e-Ittehad-ul-Muslimeen) are busy celebrating in the social media the defeat of secular parties, especially the Congress —the party which is out of power for the last 30 years in Bihar and which, with just fifty odd MPs, is tottering nation-wide. What these ladies and gentlemen overlook is that AIMIM was itself a constituent of Grand Democratic ‘Secular’ Front.
If the word ‘secular’ has such a nauseating smell why have the leaders of AIMIM agreed to have this name and join hands with Bahujan Samaj Party and Rashtriya Lok Samata Party whose track record–so far communal issues are concerned—is certainly worse than that of the main partner of the Grand Alliance, the Rashtriya Janata Dal. Instead it would have been much better to vote for Janata Dal (United) candidates than that of the BSP and RLSP, which has absolutely no base whatsoever in Bihar—neither they will have in the future. The BSP under Mayawati is almost finished even in UP.
Why Alliance With RJD, TMC?
The strangest aspect is that these social media warriors of AIMIM are not blaming RJD much. In fact now its supremo Asaduddin Owaisi has come out with a fantastic story that he wanted to have an alliance with the RJD. If this secular party is so bad why has Owaisi extended his hand of friendship—if he is really telling the truth– towards the RJD. The fact is that Owaisi is saying so now after he is being held responsible for the failure of Grand Alliance.
In this era of search engines it is really easy to detect lies. Is not it the fact that it was way back on June 8 that is just a day after Union Home Minister Amit Shah’s virtual rally for Bihar, that the state president of AIMIM Akhtar-ul- Iman had unilaterally announced that his party would contest on 32 seats. That was the high time of Corona Virus in Bihar and no party, save the BJP, had started preparation for polls. So when did the AIMIM leadership call on RJD for alliance, it is for its leadership to explain?
The even bigger question is as to why will any party join hands with an outfit which has the potential to cause counter-polarisation.
Is not it the fact that after the by-poll victory in Bihar’s Kishanganj in October last year that the Bengal unit of the AIMIM had announced that the party would contest in all the 294 seats there. If you make such announcement unilaterally 18 months before the poll schedule in May 2021 then do not expect to have an alliance and that too with the ruling Trinamool Congress.
Whipping A Dead Horse
Throughout the election campaign in Bihar and even after the result both Owaisi and Akhtar-ul-Iman kept accusing the Congress for the backwardness of Muslims and Seemanchal in the last 70 years. His blind followers flooded the social media with the similar allegations. What they failed to appreciate is that the Congress has been out of power in Bihar for more than 30 years—in as many number of years in UP and 43 years in Bengal.
Bihar has been in the hands of Nitish Kumar-led NDA for the last 15 years. Nationally the Congress is out of power since 2014.
The last time the Congress was in power largely on its own was between 1991 and 1996 under Narasimha Rao. That was the time when Owaisi’s AIMIM (then led by his father) had a good relationship with the Congress—even though Rao is still held responsible by many for the destruction of Babri Masjid. The common enemy of both the Congress and AIMIM in the then Andhra Pradesh was N T Rama Rao’s Telugu Desam Party—now headed by his son-in-law, Chandrababu Naidu.
When the Congress was really powerful the AIMIM was with it. But when the party got weak and Andhra Pradesh was heading for bifurcation Owaisi broke his two-decades long relationship with the Congress in 2012. What a strange way of befooling the people!
So during the recent Bihar poll, as a part of strategy, the AIMIM repeatedly targeted the Congress for its failure in the past, but hardly raised the larger problems the people, especially of Seemanchal where it was contesting, were facing after the post-lockdown period when millions of labours were rendered jobless, were harassed and thrashed by police and authorities while on way back home.
Is not it a fact that police brutally assaulted migrant labours at Katihar railway station, when they demanded bus to be sent to their respective towns and villages? Is not it a fact that a Muslim woman, while returning from Gujarat to Katihar, died on her way home and her body was brought down at the Muzaffarpur railway station?
The photograph of this woman with two kids sitting beside her attracted the global attention.
Katihar is no doubt the biggest town of Seemanchal yet those who have their stomachs full would like all these facts to be forgotten. Instead it is easy to blame those not in power for three long decades, and that too on social media. How long will they keep whipping an almost dead party and not take up the prevailing challenge?
( Soroor Ahmed is a senior journalist based in Patna)