Redefining Nationalism: Am examination of the rhetoric, positions and postures of Asaduddin Owaisi
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Asaduddin Owaisi is the leader of the political party, All India Majlis-e-Ittehad-ul-Muslimeen, and also the latest patriarch in a family dynasty stretching at least three generations. Born in Hyderabad in 1969, in the last twelve years, he has gained national prominence as Member of Parliament who espouses Muslim causes more forcefully than any other Indian Muslim. To his devotees, he is the Naqib-e-Millat-The Captain of the community. To his detractors he is “communalist” and an “opportunist.” He is an astute political force that is changing the face and tone of Indian politics. This report examines Owaisi’s rhetoric and postures to further study Muslim-Indian identity in the Indian Republic. Owaisi’s calls for the Muslims to uplift themselves also echo the calls of Muhammad Iqbal (d. 1938), the outstanding poet-philosopher who called on Muslims to raise their status in the eyes of God and the world through action, love, and knowledge acquisition. Owaisi is constantly reminding his audience that in spite of the rhetorical similarities he might have with those who called for the creation of Pakistan, he is a firm believer in the existence of the Indian nation state - a nation state that is fair and just to its minorities and does not succumb to a regressive majoritarian mode of governance.