Sharp and fiery, AIMIM’s Asaduddin Owaisi puts his points across
His act took the members of the Lok Sabha by surprise and it was met with a lot of protests from the treasury benches.Updated: Dec 11, 2019 07:57 IST
As members of the Lok Sabha debated the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2019, on Monday, All India Majlis-e-Ittehad-ul-Muslimeen (AIMIM) lawmaker Asaduddin Owaisi took everyone by surprise when he tore its copy.
“This bill is violative of the Constitution and it is an insult to the ideals of those who freed this nation from the British in 1947. Do you know how the Mahatma came to be known as the Mahatma? In 1910, after returning from South Africa, he tore a copy of the Race Laws. In the same vein, I will tear this bill as it seems to divide India,” Owaisi said as he tore a copy of the bill on Monday.
His act took the members of the Lok Sabha by surprise and it was met with a lot of protests from the treasury benches.
In the last few years, the firebrand Owaisi has risen as one of the most vocal voices of the Muslim community.
The 50-year-old Owaisi is a four-time MP and was first elected to the House in 2004 from the Owaisi family’s pocket borough, Hyderabad. His father Sultan Salahuddin Owaisi represented the seat for six consecutive terms before that.
Owaisi, a barrister who studied at Lincoln’s Inn in London, started his political career as a member of the Andhra Pradesh assembly in 1999, elected as the MLA from Charminar.
The lone member of Parliament from his party from Hyderabad, he has been known to put his point across in a clear and concise manner, with time in the House precious for him. With just one member, the time allotted for AIMIM has been less than that given to other parties with multiple members.
During the debate on the triple talaq, within the time frame of two minutes, Owaisi had listed three points under which he said the bill suffered from constitutional infirmity. He explained that under Rule 367 sub-section 2, he will call for division as the bill was in violation of Articles 14 and 15. And, that as mandated by the Constitution, any discriminatory law must pass two tests—that of intelligible differential and rational nexus. He went on to explain how the bill does not pass either test.
“You are thrusting the burden of proof on the women. Who will pay for their maintenance when the man goes to jail for three years. If you are so worried for Muslim women, why have you abandoned the Hindu women of Kerala and do not allow them into Sabarimala?” Owaisi had asked.
Assam-based lawyer-activist Aman Wadud says that Owaisi is an underrated parliamentarian.
“In the last few years, Owaisi has risen as a voice of the Muslim youth. What is noteworthy is how he has made the Constitution noteworthy within the House. He may be termed as a hardliner but within this regressive anti-Muslim government, Owaisi has helped us realise how to counter. He gives us hope,” said Wadud.
When he was elected to the House as a member of the 17th Lok Sabha, Owaisi was greeted with chants of “Jai Shri Ram”, “Vande Mataram” and “Bharat mata ki jai” from the treasury benches. A nonplussed Owaisi took the oath in Urdu, and ended it by saying, “Jai Bheem, Jai Meem, Takbeer. Allah-u-Akbar. Jai Hind.”
During the discussion on Article 370, Owaisi said that this was the government’s “third historical mistake”. The first mistake, he said, was the arrest of former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Sheikh Abdullah in 1953 by the Jawaharlal Nehru government. The second mistake, he said, was the alleged rigging of the 1987 assembly election in the state.
“The BJP has definitely lived up to its election manifesto, but not to its Constitutional duties,” he said. “I am aware that many in the ruling party believe in alchemy, not in science, but transporting a state to a union territory will make Pasha and Mandrake the Magician go green with envy,” he added.
He spoke about how the government’s move went against the grain of the findings of several panels, including the Sarkaria Commission. He attacked the government, saying that they picked up the tactics from Nazi manual and wondered if it was following the footsteps of the Israelis and Chinese. He also invoked Prussian statesman Otto Von Bismarck and compared Srinagar to West Bank.
“Eid is on Monday. Are you saying that instead of sacrificing a lamb, Kashmiris should sacrifice themselves? Perhaps they will now,” he said.
Writer-journalist and political commentator Rasheed Kidwai said that Owaisi is doing exceedingly well as a parliamentarian by putting out the legal and political facts and calling a spade a spade.
But, Kidwai said, his position might not serve the Muslim community all too well.
“His line of thought, of laying out the ideas of identity politics, could be catering to Hindu right agenda. Beyond a point, identity politics is counterproductive, especially now when the nationalist Muslim is expected to reconcile keeping in mind the security of the community at large,” Kidwai said.
“But there is also the danger of going uncontested. Owaisi is making sure we’re at least not a victim of that,” he said.