Group President, Group Managing Director & Editor In Chief: Dr.Shelly Ahmed

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Owaisi Banks On Social Media To Reach 'Banned Kannad'

Will the Karnataka government’s ban on Owaisi from holding public meetings in Bengaluru help his party?

When the Karnataka High Court upheld the ban on Asaduddin Owaisi’s entry into Bengaluru last week, it sent a strong message to his supporters that the Congress government in the state would leave no stone unturned to stop the All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) party led by him from establishing its footprint in the city. In February, the Bengaluru police had denied him permission to hold a public meeting in the city, a move that was challenged by Owaisi’s supporters in the high court.

“My speeches are on You- Tube and social media, you can check whether I have said anything that could cause communal disharmony,” says Owaisi. “I cannot understand why the Bengaluru police and the Karnataka government want to stop me from entering the city.”

While Owaisi may not be able to travel to Bengaluru to address his supporters, he feels YouTube is doing the job for him.Owaisi’s speeches on YouTube and social media platforms have seen a steady rise with political debates taking place on Twitter and Facebook.

“Social media is the new tool that will help me propagate my message and it will also neutralise the setback of the prohibitory orders against me,” says Owaisi.

In the current context, one question arises: Why is the Karnataka government nervous about the AIMIM making a foray into the city when it (AIMIM) has already made its presence felt in the northern districts of the state? Or has the Congress-led government developed cold feet after losing the Muslim vote bank in neighbouring Maharashtra?

The aimim’s success in the 2015 Aurangabad municipal corporation election has made political parties take notice of the party’s rise. With hardly any presence a few years ago, it has emerged as the only party to put up a fight in Aurangabad by winning 23 corporation wards. The Congress had to settle for a mere 10 wards while the BJP and the Shiv Sena control the corporation with 58 seats.However, the Congress leaders in Karnataka seem not to be affected by the AIMIM’s rising popularity beyond Hyderabad, where the party is headquartered.

SA Hussain, secretary of the Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC, says that the community is with the party and they don’t have to worry about the rise of the AIMIM. Speaking to INNLIVE, Hussain says, “The Muslims of Karnataka have rejected religion-based outfits such as the Muslim League in the past and will give a similar reply to the AIMIM.”Owaisi, however, would like to think differently.

“What has the Congress done for the Muslims? There is not a single Muslim mp from the state. Can the Congress explain why it cannot give representation to Muslims from the state in Parliament? They have treated Muslims only as a vote bank and that is what the people are questioning,” says Owaisi.

The AIMIM and Asaduddin Owaisi are looking forward to testing the political waters in the forthcoming local body polls in Karnataka, scheduled to be held next month. The AIMIM over the years has made inroads into several districts such as Gulbarga, Bidar and Raichur, adjoining Andhra Pradesh and Telangana. In the last election, the AIMIM had won three seats in Bidar and three seats in Basavakalyan town panchayat in 2013.

This time, the AIMIM is aiming much higher and the party’s district units are clearly capitalising on the sympathy the ban has generated for Owaisi in the Muslim community.

The ban put forth by the Karnataka government may be applicable under the jurisdiction of Bengaluru city but it has helped the AIMIM garner support for it in other towns and districts of the state and in a way the ‘politics of ban’ has been helping Owaisi’s cause.

When asked whether the ban has affected him in any way, Owaisi says, “I will not comment on whether the ban has helped me but people certainly want to know why the ban is imposed on me in the first place.”
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