Where is Muslim leadership of the new generation in India?
By Shamsher Alam
Veteran leadership is considered a hallmark of political discourse. However, a political party cannot be run only by the old leaders. New leadership has to inevitably elevate the same. If the old leaders have decades of experience to run their parties, at the same time, the new generation leaders have energy and enthusiasm to uplift the party to new heights. The emergence of new leadership is necessary not only for the flourishing of political parties but also to carry forward their ideologies. This article is an attempt to shed light on new generation of Muslim leadership of important political parties, particularly in northern India.
The unprecedented upsurge and popularity of right-wing politics attracted various political leaders to join the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). It also fascinated youth to join the same. However, when it comes to the youth leaders or new leadership from the Muslim community in BJP – it shows a very dismal picture. BJP vociferously argues about its inclusive character and gave a famous slogan Sabka Saath Sabka Vikas (Collective Efforts Inclusive Growth). Later on, it also included Sabka Vishwas, which culminates into Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas, Sabka Vishwas (Together with All, Development for All, the Trust of All). However, as far as the inclusion of new Muslim leadership is concerned, the situation is known to everyone.
Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi and Syed Shahnawaz Hussain are the two Muslim leaders of the party. It is an open secret that these two leaders are just Muslim faces of the right-wing ideology. Except for these two Muslim figures, there is absence of new generation Muslim leadership. To put it differently, their presence in the right-wing camp could not persuade other Muslim youth or leaders to join the party. This suggests that they do not have potential to gain the support of the Muslim community, particularly Muslim youth. The invisibility of new Muslim leadership can also be understood by the absence of Muslim Members of Parliament (MPs) from this party. Therefore, it can be argued that there is a difference between their idea of inclusion and its actualization.
Salman Khurshid, Ghulam Nabi Azad and Ahmed Patel are the trinity of Indian National Congress (INC). To some extent, they have important and influential positions in the party. Among these, Khurshid is from the northern part of India.
However, nowadays, there is an absence of new generation of Muslim leaders. Imran Pratapgarhi is the face of Muslim youth and an emerging leader in northern India, particularly in UP. He fought the 2019 general election. He was accommodated through parachute entry in the same, because of his fan following as an Urdu poet. Had he not been Urdu poet, an eloquent speaker and large fan following, his parachute entry in the same would not have been possible. Although Congress party is being considered as a secular and representative of various marginalized castes, its character can be deciphered from the number of Muslim MPs in Lok Sabha, which is four. Moreover, there has always been a lack of influential new leadership from the Muslim community in this historic political party. Henceforth, it can be argued that the Muslim leadership of the new generation is not visible and satisfactory.
There are other political parties such as Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) and Samajwadi Party (SP), which ardently adhere to social justice principles. These two political parties have a very important place in the political discourse of northern India, particularly in UP. These parties are known for the representation of marginalized Dalit and backward castes. They also manage to form the government in UP with the support of Muslim voters. However, when it comes to the representation of influential and important Muslims leaders, they can be counted on the tip of fingers. Nasimuddin Siddiqui was one of the important leaders of BSP. However, he was expelled from the party. Although he was enjoying a very significant position in the party, his removal from the same makes BSP without well-known Muslim faces. There is utter lack of Muslim leaders of such swagger in northern region. There are three Muslim MPs (2019 general election) from the same party. Among these, only Kunwar Danish Ali is in his early 40s. This indicates that Muslim leadership is in the hand of old politicians. The new leadership is not emerging from the same.
The new Muslim leadership is also not visible in SP. Azam Khan is one of the important figures of this party. Later on, he introduced his son into politics and managed to make him a lawmaker in the UP assembly. Expect Azam Khan, there is a total absence of Muslim leaders of similar position and power. However, Nafees Ahmad, a youth leader had been elected as an MLA in 2017 Uttar Pradesh assembly election. Similarly, only three Muslim MPs (2019 general election) are being elected from SP. They are veterans. Young MPs are not being selected from the same, which indicate there is no growth of new Muslim leadership in the party. The representation of Pasmanda (combination of Backward and Dalit Muslims) Muslims as an old or new leader from these parties is invisible. In this context, it can be vehemently argued that these parties do not acknowledge the Pasmanda politics. They do consider Muslim as a monolithic category. The representation of backward and Dalit Muslims is not being addressed in these camps. Henceforth, marginalized Muslims are being relegated to the periphery as far as their political representation is concerned.
The Pasmanda Muslim leadership emerged in northern India, particularly in Bihar. Maulana Ali Hussain ‘Asim Bihari’ and Abdul Qaiyum Ansari were important ideologues of Pasmanda politics. These two leaders were active on the issues facing backward Muslims during the freedom struggle. In post-independent India, Ali Anwar Ansari and Ejaz Ali are two significant leaders of Pasmanda discourse. They emerged from the second phase of Pasmanda movement, but later on, they were co-opted by Janata Dal (United) in Bihar. Their association with JD (U) caused the loss of an independent outlook of Pasmanda politics. However, time and again, they have raised issues of Backward and Dalit Muslims. Except these two leaders, there is an absence of new Pasmanda leaders who command the same respect as these two. This political discourse is in crisis. In recent times, it has been in the dwindling stage. It is deteriorating because of the invisibility of national leadership from an autonomous viewpoint. It is also declining because the first generation Pasmanda leaders were not able to persuade, train or support the Pasmanda Muslim youth to join the movement, which would have culminated into the emergence of new Pasmanda political leaders.
All India Majlis-E-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) is known as a Muslim party. To put it differently, it is a mediatized discourse, which brands this party as a Muslim political party. This media discourse is trying to expand its contour in northern India. This led to the recruitment of many Muslim youths or new leaders in the same region. However, there is lack of any well-known Muslim face of AIMIM in the northern part of India.
Therefore, it can be safely argued that the current Muslim leadership is getting old and there are no new emerging and dynamic Muslim leaders. The old leadership are just Muslim faces of their respective parties. There is a lack of new generation Muslim leadership across all political parties in India. New faces are not adequately represented or having an important position in the political discourse. In other words, they are not sufficiently represented in parliament and state assemblies. Moreover, the Pasmanda Muslim leadership is dwindling. There is a lack of new faces in Pasmanda leadership at the state and national level. The key Muslim political leaders are not able to motivate, socialize and train young minds from the Muslim community to join their political parties and to become new Muslim leaders. What they have done instead is that they have encouraged their relatives to join their parties. They have parachuted their kith and kin into politics. In the name of youth and new leadership, the political parties are trying to put forward their sons, daughters and relatives. And this trend is a handicap to the emergence of new Muslim leadership in India, and especially so in North India.
Courtesy : Two Circles.com