I must begin with a caveat: I am neither a political analyst nor a psephologist. Like many in India, I am an avid follower of politics and try to make sense of the happenings with common sense. This piece is an attempt to make sense of AAP’s victory in Delhi and situate this victory within the larger popular discourse about Indian Muslims, particularly their supposed victimhood, lack of leadership, and ghettoization.
What’s up with Indian Muslims?
Here I sump up very briefly the arguments from three newspaper articles about Indian Muslims, which give us a glimpse into the popular discourse about Indian Muslims.
In a well-intentioned piece, coincidentally published on the morning of 7 January, 2015, the day the Charlie Hebdo massacre took place, Sagarika Ghose recommends that Indian Muslims shouldn’t allow themselves to be pushed into perpetual victimhood over issues of ‘love jihad’ (inter-faith love/marriage between Hindus and Muslims) and ‘ghar wapsi’ (religious conversion of minorities to Hinduism). She recounts the achievements of Indian Muslim icons and frames them problematically with Indian nationalism, “India’s exceptional Muslim citizens are icons whose achievements are proudly, subliminally claimed by Indian nationalism even if the ‘Muslim’ is apparently antithetical to it.” Ghose’s concern is borne out of the fact that Asaduddin Owaisi gained prominence as the ‘sole spokesperson’ of the Muslim community in India, after his impressive electoral debut in Maharashtra, outside his home-turf, Hyderabad. Further, Ghose answers why Indian Muslims might be opting for Owaisi’s supposedly communal brand of politics, “A leaderless community is now seeking refuge in their own demagogues, in the belief that they alone can offer an effective counterpoint to both majoritarian and flawed secular politics.” While she makes an ardent appeal for a modern, moderate Muslim leadership that can steer Muslims to national mainstream, her final message is one of self-congratulation: “Beyond the yelling bigots, there’s a silent more welcoming truth: Indian Muslims would not be the second largest community in the world, if the true Hindu was anti-Muslim.”