By: Sanbeer Singh Ranhotra
Last Updated: October 25, 2022, 12:00 IST
New Delhi, India
The issue is of Owaisi and his ilk thinking they can silently get away with what they’ve just done. Mind you, there is no way Owaisi just forgets wishing people on Diwali. (File photo: PTI)
This was perhaps the first Diwali not overshadowed by the fear of Covid-19. For Indians, this Diwali was a way to vent pent up frustration of the past two years and go big in celebrating what is perhaps the grandest festival of our civilisation. Diwali is truly a festival which brings everyone together. Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists and Jains definitely celebrate the festival of lights in a big way, but even many Christians and Muslims chip in. It’s the magnificence of Diwali that draws people from all walks of life and faiths to it. However, not everyone really seems to appreciate the inclusive nature of Diwali. In doing so, such people betray the idea of secularism which they themselves claim to be champions of.
Here’s the thing. When in public life, there are certain formalities you must complete on a regular basis. You might not like what you’re saying, in this case, you might despise Hindus and their festivals, but being in public life, you have a duty to extend greetings to those celebrating Diwali. Asaduddin Owaisi seems to think of himself as an exception who can day and night claim Muslims are being persecuted in India by a Hindu government, while himself choosing to not wish hundreds of millions of Indians a happy Diwali.
The issue here is not of people wanting to be wished by Owaisi. Nobody really cares about Owaisi on a day as important as Diwali, and neither does the absence of greetings from Owaisi even minutely impact the celebrations of millions of people. However, he must surely have his own conscience to answer to. Why is it that the man could not put out a simple greeting despite knowing that India celebrated its most important festival on Monday?
Knowing the kind of politician that he is, the most obvious response to this question would probably be an observation of how Diwali is not at all India’s most important festival. He would probably also argue that all festivals celebrated in India from time to time are the same. However, that’s a lie. No festival brings as many Indians together as Diwali does. If Owaisi was indeed half the champion of secularism and tolerance that he so enthusiastically claims to be, he would recognise the significance of Diwali and extend greetings to the nation on the occasion.
Instead, he chose not to. Now here’s the problem with that. Owaisi makes it a point to castigate the Modi government for being one that is driven by a Hindutva agenda. He accuses the Sangh Parivar of being the real power in India today, while also falsely claiming that some sort of a state-sponsored programme to discriminate and harass Muslims is underway.
These claims are made not just by Owaisi, but also by many Muslim leaders in India. To be fair, Owaisi is not alone in skipping greeting the nation on Diwali. Many leaders like him chose not to extend Diwali greetings as well, most of whom are Islamists. The point here though, is of the absolutely irony that has come to the fore due to Owaisi and his ilk giving Diwali greetings a deliberate miss.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, his ministers, BJP leaders and even senior functionaries of the RSS – they all wish Muslims on Islamic days of significance. There is not one Islamic festival that PM Modi has not extended greetings to the nation on. Common and minimum decency dictates that Owaisi do the same on Hindu festivals. No matter what is said about the man, Owaisi is by and large the most prominent Muslim face in Indian politics. In a way, he represents Indian Muslims. For him to not wish people on Diwali is, therefore, all the more concerning.
Here’s how severe this issue really is. How would Asaduddin Owaisi, and Muslims at large react to the Indian Prime Minister, cabinet ministers and functionaries of the ruling party not extending Eid greetings? They’d be outraged, call out the supposed ‘bigotry’ of the Indian state and maybe even wage a global campaign to expose Indian leaders’ disdain for Islamic festivals and those that observe them.
However, that is not the case. The issue is of Owaisi and his ilk thinking they can silently get away with what they’ve just done. Mind you, there is no way Owaisi just forgets wishing people on Diwali. This is a calculated and deliberate move – one that exposes the man more than ever. Owaisi has the right to call his political opponents whatever he wishes to. He can accuse them of being Hindutva extremists, Islamophobes and ones that follow a far-right ideology.
The man should also have the courage to answer one simple question — one that seeks to probe why he skipped wishing the nation on Diwali. Is the government held accountable on a completely different set of standards, and do those standards not apply to Owaisi and leaders like him? If that is indeed the case, there can be nobody more hypocritical than the AIMIM chief, and leaders like him who too have a disdain for anything originally Indian – like Indic festivals.
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About the Author
Sanbeer Singh Ranhotra is a producer and video journalist at Network18. He is enthusiastic about and writes on both national affairs as well as geopolRead More
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