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Mainstream, VOL LIX No 1, New Delhi, December 19, 2020

Bihar State Poll 2020: Rising(?) AIMIM - A Boon or Curse for Indian Muslims? | Sukla Sen

Saturday 19 December 2020

by Sukla Sen

Introduction

In the just concluded Bihar assembly poll [2020], which had been expected to be a cakewalk for the ruling NDA [1] — despite the erstwhile third major partner quitting [2]

However, the last moment — rather post-poll, saw anticipation of a victory for its main rival — Mahagathbandhan (MGB) [3], led by Tejashwi Yadav, the younger son of once too formidable, now in jail, Lalu Prasad Yadav — at the head of the, regional, Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD), founded by his father.

In the event, it turned out to be a rather slender and somewhat controversial win for the NDA.[4]

This election, it deserves to be noted, saw two significant spoilers: Lok Janashakti Party (LJP) — a regional outfit and till the other day very much a constituent of the ruling, led by very recently deceased Ramvilas Paswan’s son Chirag Paswan, and the All India Majlis-e-Ittehad-ul-Muslimeen (AIMIM), led by its only MP — Asaduddin Owaisi, from the Old City of Hyderabad.

While the LJP did significant damage to the NDA — more particularly, its erstwhile largest constituent [5] the JD(U) [6], the AIMIM, which virtually parachuted from Hyderabad, understandably, has allegedly marred the prospects of the MGB, in general, and the Congress[7], in particular, though things, admittedly, are far hazier in the latter case.

In the following, apart from the poll result itself, attention would be focused on the role of the AIMIM, in particular, and its emerging implications.

Poll Outcome: Some Highlights

Two major alliances Seats Vote Share
NDA: 125 37.26%
MGB: 110 37.23%

What separated NDA and MGB in terms of the total votes they got was a mere 12,768 (out of about 3.14 crore). NDA polled 1,57,01,226 votes and MGB 1,56,88,458 votes.[8]
This difference in vote shares of the two main alliances, it may be noted, is significantly lower than the prediction of a difference of around 6% points by the Lokniti-CSDS pre-poll opinion survey[1].

The vote-share of the current NDA has as compared to the preceding state poll has dipped, quite significantly, down from 43.2% — almost 6% points.

That of the MGB has moved north from 28.5%.

In the last parliamentary poll, BJP+JD(U) had polled 45.4% and RJD+INC: 23.1%.[9]9
This time round, it’s 34.85% and 32.59%.[10]

So, the former has dipped by a tad over 10% and the latter has increased by just below 10% points.

Two major spoilers: LJP has polled 5.66% votes and AIMIM (as a constituent of the GDSF — consisting of 6 minor parties): 1.24%.[10]

Major parties seats won vote share[10]
RJD 75 23.11%
BJP: 74 19.46%
JD(U) 43 15.39%
INC 19 9.48%
CPI(ML)-Lib 12 3.17%(?)

Brief Overview

AA[11]. Bihar is a traditional low-polling state.

In recent years, the highest polling rate in an assembly poll was 62.6%, in 2000.

It’d plumb the lowest, in 2005 (2nd time): 45.9%.

This time, it was: 57.1%.

BB[11] . Broadly, the NDA has done better in the areas polling higher and the MGB in the areas polling lower.

This tends to indicate that while the vote for the NDA — the coalition in power, at both the state and central levels, was largely “positive” — a vote for the alliance, the vote for the challenger MGB was mostly “negative”, i.e. “anti-incumbency”, rather for its poll manifesto.

That’s quite significant, given that (i) Bihar[12] is one of the worst-affected states — maybe even “the” worst hit, by the huge migrant labour crisis[13] and (ii) the reports that Tejashwi’s public meetings had attracted large enthusiastic crowds[14] presumably triggered, largely, by the promise of one million jobs — including ten lakh with the government itself[15] [16] that struck quite a chord with the youth, in particular.

Of course, voters have multiple considerations in mind and vote in diverse ways.
CC[17]. Looked at in a different way, in the three-phase poll, the MGB scored its best in the first — well ahead, more than double, of its rival NDA; and the worst in the third/last — less than half of that NDA.

The Congress — the second largest constituent in the MGB, however, did its best in the first phase and the worst in the second — in terms of proportions of total seats won.

DD[10], [17], [18], [19], [20]. In terms of strike rates, the BJP (74 seats and 19.5% vote share) has performed best: 66.07% (=74/112).

The CPI(ML)-Liberation (12 seats and about 3.2%(?) vote share): 63.16% (=12/19).

The RJD (75 seats and 23.1% vote share): 52.08% (=75/144).

The JD(U) (43 seats and 15.4% vote share): 37.39% (=43/115).

The Congress (19 seats and 9.5% vote share): 27.14% (=19/70).

EE. As per a post-poll survey, 76% of Muslims have voted for the MGB and 5% for the NDA.[21]

If the Seemanchal region — where the AIMIM had won 5 seats out of the total 20[22] contested <https://www.thequint.com/news/polit...> ), is taken out, it’d be significantly even higher — for the MGB.

Dalit votes have, apparently, been more or less evenly split between the two rival camps.

However, each caste of the Dalit conglomerate has voted (largely) in its own way.
If there’s a prominent leader from the caste, votes have, to a significant extent, swayed that way.[21]

FF. While the LJP has damaged the prospects of the JD(U), in particular, the AIMIM has damaged the MGB[23].

The Left — the CPI(ML)-Liberation in particular, has, as a constituent of the MGB, scored pretty spectacularly.

The NDA has been dragged down by the JD(U) and the MGB by the Congress, even more so.

GG[4]. The controversy as regards the vote counting concerns the counting of postal votes — physical ballots, allegedly, after the counting of the EVM votes — instead of at the very beginning of the counting as per norms.

It’s significant that here appears to be no allegation as regards the EVMs.
HH. The breaking away of the LJP from the NDA, in the state, offered an opportunity to the MGB to leave the NDA behind.

Eventually, that didn’t happen; on the other hand, the relative weight of the BJP in the alliance has pretty much gone up at the cost of the JD(U).

This (further) shift in power equation in favour of the BJP, in all probability, would get reflected in the, for now stalled, roll-out of the NPR/NRC, as and when it takes place, with disastrous consequences for too many.[24]

Role of AIMIM in Bihar

The AIMIM, for the first time, could obtain a toehold in the political map of Bihar by managing to snatch an assembly seat, in the Kishanganj district of the Seemanchal region, via a by-poll only in October last year.[25]

This time, it has been able to win as many as 5 seats[26] — all of which are in the Seemanchal region and 4 of these are within Kishanganj parliamentary constituency and the remaining one in adjoining Araria[27], while failing to retain the only seat — Kishanganj (assembly), it had won just over a year back.

The rather narrowish loss by the MGB, at the end of a spirited fight, with the Congress performing well below expectations, the blame for the defeat, it was found too convenient, to direct at the AIMIM.[28], [29]

This assessment is buttressed, apparently, by two factors: (i) the assumption that, left to themselves, Muslim voters would vote for the MGB and (ii) the AIMIM — contesting clearly from a “Muslim” platform[30] did significantly better than what had been generally anticipated[31].

This assertion has, however, been controverted by knowledgeable analysts[22], [32].

The naysayers have, on the face of it, rather convincingly demonstrated that the votes obtained by the losing AIMIM candidates have in no way altered the outcomes in favour of the NDA as in cases of NDA victory the votes polled by the AIMIM candidates are less than the respective victory margins — except in just one seat, Raniganj, and that too by only 108 votes.[22]

What these analyses, however, miss out that the AIMIM, pretty much unlike the LJP, has helped the BJP in two, not one, ways: (i) it has (just not) taken Muslim votes — which can very much be counted, away from the MGB and (ii) by triggering counter polarisation strengthened the Hindutva platform of the BJP and thus helped divert (some — uncountable) Hindu votes away from the MGB to the NDA, even in constituencies where it had no candidates.


The AIMIM ran an aggressive Muslim-issues-centric campaign in the entire Seemanchal region which has 24 assembly seats in core and another 20 in buffer area. Araraiya, Kishanganj, Purnia and Katihar Lok Sabha seats fully fall in Seemanchal. The Muslim population here is more than 40%. The AIMIM campaign contained hot topics of the central government like CAA/NRC. Nitish Kumar himself has voiced opposition to these issues in Bihar under his watch. Because of AIMIM, the focus of this election shifted from Nitish’s non performance to these contentious issues which ultimately helped the BJP’s polarisation plank. This affected the entire third phase through extensive coverage by media.

...

... If we add all Seemanchal core area seats as well, then out of 72 assembly seats of north-central and north-east Bihar, the NDA bagged 48, the MGB got a mere 19 and 5 went to AIMIM.[23]

This has been backed up with a detailed constituency-wise account.
Also significant: According to social activist Ghalib Khan “In these areas AIMIM and other Muslim parties campaigned not against NDA but against secular parties like Congress and RJD. Their campaign centred round the question of representation, that these secular parties like RJD and Congress treated minorities as their vote bank but never showed real concern about their issues. They were mum on BJP-JD (U). It is very unfortunate that people of Seemanchal have voted for communal Owaisi instead of parties which produce secular personalities like Mahboob Alam (CPIML-Liberation) and Shakeem Ahmad Khan (Congress). [4]”

Of course, the AIMIM is, in no way, the only factor that did adversely impact the MGB.

The quitting of the VIP and inadequate ability to transfer votes to alliance partners etc. also played very significant roles.[22], [33]

Implications: For Coming Polls 

The just concluded the GHMC poll has, once again, amply demonstrated how the BJP is out to use the AIMIM as an extremely convenient peg[34], [35], [36], [37], [38]34, 35, 36, 37, 38 in the process of its, even otherwise, strident communal campaign, to polarise the Hindus in its favour.

In order to get the hang of it all:

In 2009, the Congress had won 52 wards, TDP 45, AIMIM 43 and the BJP 4; in 2016, TRS won 99 wards, AIMIM 44, BJP 4, Congress 2 and TDP 1.[39]

This time round: BJP has won 48 wards,TRS 56 seats, emerged as the single-largest party but fallen short of the majority mark, AIMIM) 44 and Congress 2.[40]

Thus, both the BJP and the AIMIM are jubilant.[41], [42]

However, (many) local Muslims are worried.[43]

While the AIMIM has been able to maintain its numerical strength, the BJP has dramatically quadrupled its number of seats and emerged the second largest, pushing back the AIMIM to the third slot, at the cost of the TRS.

Quite interestingly, the BJP suffered a significant setback, all at the same time, in next-door Maharashtra in polls for six seats of the Legislative Council, where there was no opportunity for religious polarisation.[44]

That the AIMIM is bent upon joining the fray, in a rather big way, during coming West Bengal state poll[45] becomes thereby all the more significant.

It is against this specific backdrop, the reactions of some Muslim journalists and commentators to the “rise” of the AIMIM deserve attention.

Some Significant (Muslim) Reactions

I/V.[46]

An interesting cartoon viral on social media has All India Ittihadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) chief and Hyderabad MP Asaduddin Owaisi in his trademark topi but uncharacteristically also wearing khaki shorts of the RSS. Two men carry him by holding hands. The faces of men are not shown but, from their dresses, they appear to be BJP’s top two leaders. Most of the comments the cartoon has received since it went viral suggest Owaisi is now headed to West Bengal which will go to the polls next year.

...

I don’t buy the accusations that Owaisi has a tacit understanding with the BJP since I don’t have a credible proof. I am not privy to his “dealings” with the saffron side that he is often accused of. His detractors talk about the “soft” corner some senior BJP leaders have in their hearts for Owaisi. To back their arguments, these detractors argue that several Muslim critics of the BJP government have faced the strong arm of the law—raids by ED, CBI and arrests—on allegedly fake charges but Owaisi manages to remain out of those “dragnets”. “Why is it so?,” I once asked Owaisi at a press conference. “You are my friend, do you want me to go to jail?,” he replied. All my fellow journalists there had good laugh at his reply. He has never explained why senior leaders in the BJP mostly ignore his trenchant comments but come down heavily on others if they make similar comments.

Returning to Bihar, what will his five MLAs manage to get for the poor region of Seemanchal that other Muslim leaders from the area never managed to do in the last many decades? One could understand they could have made much difference were they part of the government. Since it is unlikely he will ever support the BJP—his whole politics will collapse he if does so—his five MLAs will sit out in the opposition. After five years, they will go to the masses again, saying they couldn’t do much as they were not part of the government.
...
Now that Owaisi gears up to enter West Bengal, the BJP will be more than happy to spread out a red carpet, if surreptitiously so, for him there. After all Bihar is known as dar-e-Bengal (Gateway to Bengal). And BJP will do everything to get it in its kitty. Will Owaisi prove an enabler to the BJP there too?[Emphasis added.]

II/V.[47]

The spectacular feat of Asaduddin Owaisi and his All India Majlis-e-Ittehad-ul-Muslimeen (AIMIM) in the Bihar election has recently created a ripple effect in Indian politics. Owaisi is all set to emerge as a pan-Indian face of Muslim politics. Owaisi desperately opposes the majoritarian communalism on behalf of the minorities in the present-day India.

But his party, which was initially called the Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen, was an exponent of the same predatory communalism in the Nizam’s Hyderabad that was a paradise of feudalism and patrimonialism. The present party has never denounced its pre-annexation avatar. The official website of the AIMIM calls Bahadur Yar Jang, the leader who spearheaded the MIM in the Nizam era, as the party’s tallest leader.
...
These historical examples show that the MIM practiced predatory communalism under the Nizam’s regime, the same menace that Asaduddin Owaisi and his party claim to be desperately trying to quell in today’s India. If he is sincere, he has to disown his party’s past. Else, history would haunt his party and cripple its quest for a secular and inclusive India and pan-Indian expansion.

III/V.[48]

The sphere of politics shares an intimate connection with culture. And it is precisely the cultural hegemony of the RSS, achieved through consistent mass work and integration of subjugated castes through creative revisionism of the Hindutva discourse, which anchors the flourishing of the BJP. Furthermore, the charisma and strategic depth of the Modi-Shah duo in combination with an impressive corporate-backed propaganda-electoral machinery, has produced a ‘Hindu ecosystem’ that has shifted the grounds of political engagement. The Hindu Right has triggered a legitimacy crisis for non-BJP political parties by critiquing their apparent translation of secularism as pandering to the Muslims, social justice as merely electoral calculus and domination of numerically significant castes, political opportunism and corruption, and so on. The putative secular and social justice forces simply seem to be at a loss in offering a convincing counter-narrative to the dominant Hindutva critique.

...

Among other local factors, the gains of the Asaduddin Owaisi led All India Majlis-e-Ittehad-ul-Muslimeen (AIMIM) in Bihar is also a testimony to this alienation [of alienation of Muslims from the mainstream “secular” parties]. Owaisi clearly senses a political opportunity in this moment and is going all out to incarnate himself as the pan-Indian voice of Muslims. However, as the Pasmanda critique underscores, the intended expansion of AIMIM footprints in other regions also entails democratic perils which social justice forces need to be wary of.

...

The Pasmanda activists have consistently emphasized the high-caste, symbiotic and co-constitutive nature of Hindu and Muslim communalisms and the need to contest them simultaneously. The communal discourse benefits the pan-religion caste elite at the expense of the social justice concerns of the subjugated castes who are often the foot soldiers and victims in the violence. The AIMIM, with its historical proximity to Jinnah’s Muslim League and association with the violence orchestrated by its Muslim militia called the razakars against the Hindus and communists, definitely has a tinged communal past. Even at present the relative sophistication of Asaduddin Owaisi and the provocative performances of his brother Akbaruddin Owaisi is often seen as a mutually agreed upon political division of labour. In 2007 the roughing up of the Bangladeshi author Taslima Nasreen by AIMIM activists in Hyderabad exposed the unruly side of the party. The ‘Hindu’ ecosystem clearly needs the ‘Muslim’ as its constitutive other; both the contending communalisms reinforce each other [emphasis added]. Ali Anwar, ex-MP and President All India Pasmanda Muslim Mahaz, often makes disguised references to the Owaisis when he exhorts the Pasmanda Muslims to be cautious from Muslim communalists: “Someone plans from the old Hyderabad city [...] someone utters an irresponsible statement from Dilli [...] someone uses the sermons from the religious pulpit (mimbar) irresponsibly. All this is counterproductive. There is a reaction”. Amit Shah’s comment before the Bihar assembly elections of 2015 that “Asaduddin Owaisi is a bigger opponent than RJD’s Lalu Prasad Yadav”[49] is therefore very telling indeed [emphasis added]. The BJP MP Tejaswi Surya’s recent comment in the context of the Hyderabad civic polls that “A vote for Owaisi [...] is a vote against India and everything that India stands for” clearly indicates Owaisi’s utility for BJP’s politics. It almost seems that if there was no Asaduddin Owaisi the BJP simply had to invent one [emphasis added].

IV/V.[50]

The politics of Asaduddin Owaisi’s All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen, or MIM, is certainly not the wise response to divisive politics of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) which has uncompromisingly been furthering the RSS agenda of marginalizing Muslims “to the point of making them invisible”. No doubt the ‘secular’ parties have hugely disappointed the Muslims, but Owaisi phenomenon is disastrous for secular democratic polity of the country [emphasis added]. It has only bolstered the allegations levelled against the Hyderabadi politician that he is “in cahoots with BJP”. In fact, the BJP wants more and more dissemination of Owaisi’s image to strengthen its majoritarian vote banks [emphasis added]. Precisely, a visible Owaisi makes it even more easier for the BJP to make Muslims invisible.

V.[51]

Undoubtedly, the rise of Hindu nationalism forced the ‘secular’ parties to cautiously keep Muslims away from poll process. This fear has aptly been exploited by Owaisi. But the methodology adopted by the Hyderabad-based political outfit will further weaken the Muslim community .

...

Interestingly, more than 200 sit-ins, mostly led by women, were organized across the length and breadth of the country against the citizenship regime, but none in Hyderabad — the city comprises 33 per cent Muslims. Notably, the AIMIM, which has its headquarters in the city, has been representing the parliamentary seat since 1984. The party has as many as seven MLAs from there. [Emphases added.]

Furthermore, the AIMIM also chose to gloss over the Million March, a protest demonstration against the citizenship bill, organized in Hyderabad on January 4. Surprisingly, the city administration did not allow any protest. The organizers had to seek permission from high court to carry out the protest. Later on MIM held a protest against the issue at Ambedkar Stadium in Sangareddy, over 50 kilometers away from Hyderabad.

When the government allegedly pitted its machineries and to defame and communalise the anti-citizenship protests, AIMIM’s former legislator from Maharashtra Waris Pathan made a highly controversial statement[52] saying that “15 crore hain lekin 100 crore pe bhari hain (15 crore Muslims can dominate over 100 crore Hindus”. [This is just an echo of what Akabaruddin Owaisi had bragged on an earlier occasion, as has been referred to, a while, later in the text that follows.] The provocative statement was made in the presence of AIMIM chief on February 16.

In short, a series of speeches made by Owaisi and his ilk have so far only embarrassed the Muslims and the ‘secular’ parties. On the other hand, his party supports the TRS government which stood with BJP on NRC, Article 370 and triple talaq Bill [emphasis added]. In Bihar, he also went on to for alliance with the Bahujan Samajwadi Party (BSP) which more often extended hands of support to the BJP and even voted in favour of CAA, triple talaq Bill and abrogation of 370.

AIMIM vis-à-vis BJP (in Polls)

It’s necessary to keep in mind that the AIMIM helps the BJP intwo, not one, ways.

AA. It, of course, splits up the anti-BJP votes.

That helps in the FPTP system.

BB. It, also, helps boost BJP’s Hindu votes.

It, somehow, doesn’t appear to register.

In fact, the second way — even if less obvious, could be significantly more pernicious.

It just not communalises the Muslims, but, Hindus as well.
Why and how?

Here’s the no. 2 of the AIMIM [53], operating on the (extended) home turf:

.

He’s bragging (apparently, in a public meet in Adilabad — a district town, 300 kms. from Hyderabad, on Dec. 24 2012)[54], before an enthusiastic crowd, that the 20 million Muslims of India need freehand for just 15 minutes to teach 1 billion Hindus the lesson of their life!

Of course, all the while it won’t be all that strident.

May not be even half as much.

But, the very essence of its politics is pretty graphically captured here.

Waris Pathan, another leader, has just underscored it, yet again.

That’s the long and short of it.

Broader Implications

Here it’s extremely essential to keep in mind that it’s not just about votes.

The BJP — virtually unique, right at this moment, is out to radically reconfigure “India” — founded on the ideal of being composite, inclusive, pluralist and egalitarian, as the outcome of more than a half-century long epic freedom struggle, and supplant it with a “Hindu Rashtra” (Hindu nation-state) that’d, at the very minimum, be denuded of all vestiges of substantive democracy and pluralism.

The, temporarily stalled — on account of the still ongoing pandemic[55], launch of the NPR/NRC drive — meant to deprive millions and millions of Indians of their citizenship [56], [57], [58], [59], would, quite likely, trigger a huge chaos and social strife — giving rise to a, somewhat low-key, civil war-like situation along religious divides [60], [61], [62] — and, thereby, provide a big push towards that dreaded/desired final station.

Three Significant Signals

Before going further ahead and finally conclude, let’s pause a bit to take a careful look at three significant signals sent out just these days — over and above myriad other moves being continually initiated.

This August 5th, the Prime Minister, while himself doing the ritualistic laying of the foundation stone — a 40kg silver brick[63], of the Ram Mandir at the site of the demolished Babri Masjid, pretty brazenly claimed “that 5 August should be considered as important a date as 15 August, Independence Day.” [64]

By implication, August 5 is a/the New Independence Day and with the ceremonial laying of the foundation stone of a particular (Hindu) temple a/the “New India” is born.
The next and even more recent signal is the PM approvingly recommending a book to Indian readers based on his claim that he found the book very good on reading.

While it’s not easy to gulp down his claim of “reading”, the recommendation becomes all that significant, for that very reason alone. The book talks of a “civilisational India” and calls for an outright scrapping of the Nehruvian ideals of “socialism”, “secularism” and “non-alignment”. In isolation, it may not signify much. But, when the totality of the circumstances is taken into consideration, it’s no less than, even if as yet somewhat veiled, a call for scrapping (old) “India” lock, stock and barrel.[65], [66]

It’d, most likely, be a grave mistake to take this as mere yet another habitual attempt to show off.[67]

To top it all, comes the Central Vista project via the ground-breaking ceremony for the New Parliament Building, the very centrepiece of the project.[68], [69]

The project, make no mistake, is meant to be the symbolic expression and assertion of installation of a “New India” and the monument to its founding Emperor — by blotting out the post-Independence history and old “India”,[70] with all that it had idealised even if not realised.

Boon or Curse?

Any effective resistance to that unfolding sinister project — which poses a dire threat to vast sections of common Indians but the Muslims, even more so, as is being demonstratively demonstrated, for instance, by various BJP-ruled states enacting/planning laws against “love-jihad”[71]. [72] or, for that matter, the earlier spate of (beef) lynchings[73] or, even more significant, subsequent special targeting of the anti-CAA protesters in Delhi[74]. [75] — even if we, for now, elect to brush aside what’s happening in Kashmir[76], [77], the only Muslim-majority state of India, emphatically underlines, would require, at the very minimum, wide unity among vast sections of Indian people — cutting across various dividing lines.[78], [79]
The AIMIM brand of aggressive, and abrasive[52], [54] , identity politics, however, would, on the one hand, further strengthen the BJP’s menacing majoritarian politics and, on the other, actively subvert the prospects of any united front(s) to combat it.

In short, invitation to a disaster.

The least that the “secularists”[80], [81]80, 81 — unless seized with a compulsive death wish, should do is to refrain from glorifying it.

Notes and References

[1]“The Lokniti-CSDS opinion poll that revealed this data suggests that if these numbers hold true on the polling day, the NDA will secure 38 per cent votes in the Bihar assembly elections.
“In comparison to this, the opposition alliance, named as Mahagathbandhan or Grand Alliance, is projected to secure only 32 per cent votes.”
(Ref.: ’In Bihar election opinion poll, NDA gets 6 percentage point lead over Grand Alliance’, dtd. October 20 2020, at <https://www.indiatoday.in/elections...> .)
[2] Ref.: ’Bihar polls 2020: The curious case of Chirag Paswan, the Modi bhakt who quit NDA’, dtd. November 3 2020, at <https://www.newindianexpress.com/na...> .
[3] Ref.: ’Bihar Exit Polls 2020: Poll of exit polls predicts win for Tejashwi-led Grand Alliance in Bihar’, dtd. November 9 2020, at <https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com...> .
[4] Ref.: ’Nitish Kumar will form government amid allegations of rigging’, dtd. November 13 2020, at <https://www.groundxero.in/2020/11/1...> .
[5] Ref.: <https://www.electionsinindia.com/bi...> .
[6] Ref.: ’LJP sinks but brings JD(U) down; ruling party says Nitish targeted as part of ’sinister’ campaign’, dtd. November 10 2020, at <https://www.newindianexpress.com/na...> .
[7] Ref.: ’Bihar poll results: AIMIM wins 5 seats in Seemanchal, makes inroad into Grand Alliance’s stronghold’ by Acroll Staff, dtd November 11 2020, at <https://scroll.in/latest/978199/bih...> .
[8] Ref.: ’So near, yet so far for Tejashwi: MGB got just 0.03% votes less than NDA’, dtd. November 12 2020, at <https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com...> .
[9] Ref.: ’2019 Indian general election in Bihar’ at <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2019_...> .
[10] Ref.: ’GENERAL ELECTION TO VIDHAN SABHA TRENDS & RESULT NOV-2020’ at <https://results.eci.gov.in/ACTRENDS...> .
[11] Ref.: ’Decoding the Bihar results in 32 charts: Turnouts, vote shares, victory margins and more’ by Gilles Verniers, Mohit Kumar amd Neelesh Agrawal, dtd. November 15, at <https://scroll.in/article/978521/de...> .
[12] Ref.: ’Bihar Will Take Worst Hit Due To Reverse Migration: Jean Dreze’ by Preetha Nair, dtd. April 1 2010, at <https://www.outlookindia.com/websit...> .
[13] Ref.: ’Over 1 crore migrant labourers return to home states on foot during Mar-Jun: Govt’ by PTI, dtd. September 23 2020, at <https://www.thehindu.com/news/natio...> .
[14] Ref.: ’Drawing Large Crowds, Tejashwi Yadav Leading The Charge In Bihar Polls’ by Giridhar Jha, dtd. October 22 2020, at <https://www.outlookindia.com/websit...> .
[15] Ref.: ’Bihar: Jobs, youth & farm sector focus of MGB’s manifesto’ by Sheezan Nezami, dtd. October 18 2020, at <https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com...> .
[16] Ref.: ’RJD manifesto for Bihar polls: One million jobs, farm loan waiver’ by PTI, dtd. October 24 2020, at <https://www.business-standard.com/a...> .
[17] Ref.: ’Explained: Bihar assembly election results in 10 charts’ by Shuja Asrar, dtd. November 11 2020, at <https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com...> .
[18] Ref.: ’बिहार चुनाव: बीजेपी ने 35 उम्मीदवारों की तीसरी और आखिरी सूची जारी की’ by Abhishek Tiwari, dtd. October 14 2020, at <https://www.livehindustan.com/assem...> .
[19] Ref.: ’List of Congress candidates in Bihar elections 2020’, dtd. October 16 2020, at <https://www.timesnownews.com/india/...> .
[20] Ref.: ’List of JD(U) candidates in Bihar elections 2020’, dtd. October 23 2020, at <https://www.timesnownews.com/india/...> .
[21] Ref.: ’Decoding the close Bihar election 2020 verdict’ by Shreyas Sardesai , Sandeep Shastri, Sanjay Kumar and Suhas Palshikar, dtd. November 19, at <https://indianexpress.com/article/e...> .
[22] Ref.: ’Bihar Elections: ‘Vote-Cutter’ Charge on AIMIM Not Backed By Data’ by Aditya Menon, dtd. November 11 2020, at <https://www.thequint.com/news/polit...> .
[23] Ref.: ’No, It’s Not the Magic of Women Voters or BJP’s Charm that Won NDA the Bihar Elections’ by Sudeip Shrivastava, dtd. November 14 2020 at <https://www.news18.com/news/politic...> .
[24] Ref.: ’BJP gets 2 deputy CMs as diminished Nitish takes oath’ by Akhilesh Singh and Madan Kumar, dtd. November 19 2020, at <https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com...> .
[25] Ref.: ’Owaisi’s AIMIM now has its first MLA in the Hindi belt. Why is that so significant?’ by Shoaib Daniyal, dtd. October 28 21019, at <https://scroll.in/article/941868/ow...> .
[26] Ref.: ’Bihar: What Worked in AIMIM’s Favour in Five Assembly Seats of Seemanchal?’ by Tanzil Asif, dtd. November 12, at <https://thewire.in/politics/mim-win...> .
[27] Ref.: <https://www.pngrb.gov.in/pdf/cgd/bi...> .
[28] Ref.: Tweet (in Hindi) by Congress leader Tariq Anwar on November 13 2020, at < https://twitter.com/itariqanwar/status/1327087930876194817 >.
[29] Ref.: ’BJP’s B-team Owaisi played a spoiler, responsible for the defeat RJD & allies; says Shivanand Tiwari’ by NH Political Bureau, dtd. November 11 2020, at <https://www.nationalheraldindia.com...> .
[30] “When he (Asaduddin Owaisi) addressed rallies, Owaisi came across clearly as a Muslim leader speaking exclusively to Muslims.”
(Ref.: ’What Owaisi tells Muslims’ by Jyoti Punwani, dtd. November 20 2020, at <https://www.rediff.com/news/column/...> .)
[31] “RJD-led Mahagathbandhan seems to have a clear advantage in six Assembly constituencies of Kishanganj Lok sabha seat, while the AIMIM, which is contesting 16 seats in the third round, may cut into the grand alliance’s votes and likely to win one-two seats.”(Ref.: ’Bihar Elections: Mahagathbandhan Faces AIMIM in Seemanchal, NDA Banks on Division of Muslim Votes’ by Tarique Anwar, dtd. November 7 2020, at <https://www.newsclick.in/Bihar-Elec...> .)
[32] Ref.: ’AIMIM wins 5 seats in Bihar, but hasn’t made a big dent in Mahagathbandhan vote share’ by Fatima Khan, dtd. November 10 2020, at <https://theprint.in/politics/aimim-...> .
[33] Ref.: ’Not AIMIM or Congress, Answers to Bihar Verdict 2020 Lie Elsewhere’ by Mohammad Sajjad, dtd. November 17 2020, at <https://www.newsclick.in/Not-AIMIM-...> .
[34] Ref.: ’Hyderabad: Amid war of words with Owaisi, BJP plans mega show of strength ahead of GHMC polls’, dtd. Nov. 26, at <https://www.timesnownews.com/india/...> .
[35] Ref.: ’‘Owaisi like Jinnah; voting for AIMIM a vote against India’: Tejasvi Surya’, dtd. November 24 2020, at <https://in.news.yahoo.com/owaisi-ji...> .
[36] Ref.: ’Owaisi brothers allowed only Rohingya Muslims in Hyderabad, not development: BJP MP Tejaswi Surya’, dtd. November 23, at <https://www.timesnownews.com/india/...> .
[37] Ref.: ’Yogi pledges to change Hyderabad’s name; Owaisi says, generation will end but name won’t change’, dtd. November 29 2020, at <https://www.dnaindia.com/india/news...> .
[38] Ref.: ’Owaisi hits back at Telangana BJP Prez over latter’s ‘surgical strike in old Hyderabad’ remark’, dtd. Novemeber 24 2020, at <https://www.aninews.in/videos/natio...> .
[39] Ref.: ’Hyderabad Polls, GHMC Election 2020: BJP vs AIMIM vs TRS — All you need to know’, dtd. December 4 2020, at <https://www.financialexpress.com/in...> .
[40] Ref.: ’GHMC poll results 2020: Second-placed BJP is the real winner’ by T S Sudhir, dtd. December 4 2020, at <https://www.indiatoday.in/news-anal...> .
[41] Ref.: ’People gave a saffron strike: Sanjay’ by special correspondent, dtd. December 5 2020, at <https://www.thehindu.com/news/citie...> .
[42] Ref.: ’Owaisi ecstatic with AIMIM’s performance in GHMC elections, says ‘BJP lost wherever Yogi-Shah campaigned’’, dtd. December 5 2020, at <https://www.timesnownews.com/hydera...> .
[43] Ref.: ’BJP’s ‘Battle’ for Hyderabad: Here’s Why Local Muslims Are Anxious’ by Kingshuk Nag, dtd. December 2 2020, at <https://www.thequint.com/voices/opi...> .
[44] Ref.: ’Setback For BJP In Key Maharashtra Polls: "Miscalculated Combined Power"’ by Purva Chitnis, Sunilkumar M Singh and Deepshikha Ghosh, dtd. December 4 2020, at <https://www.ndtv.com/india-news/mah...> .
[45] Ref.: ’Bengal elections: AIMIM has not even a state body but aims to contest on 94 seats’, dtd. November 27 2020, at <http://muslimmirror.com/eng/bengal-...> .
[46] Ref.: ’The meaning of Owaisi’s victory in Bihar’ by Mohammed Wajihuddin, dtd. November 13 2020, at <https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com...> .
[47] Ref.: ’The Albatross Around Asaduddin Owaisi’s Neck and Why He Should Disown It’ by Faisal C.K., dtd. November 11 2020, at <https://thewire.in/politics/asadudd...> .
[48] Ref.: ’Owaisi Represents Only The Elitist Muslims, And Not The Entire Community’ by Khalid Anis Ansari, dtd. November 24 2020, at <https://www.outlookindia.com/websit...> .
[49] Ref.: ’In Bihar polls, Owaisi a bigger opponent than Lalu: Amit Shah’ by HT Correspondent, dtd. October 5 2015, at <https://www.hindustantimes.com/indi...> .
[50] Ref.: ’The BJP needs a visible Owaisi to make Muslims invisible’ by Syed Zubair Ahmad, dtd. November 29 2020, at <http://muslimmirror.com/eng/the-bjp...> .
[51] Ref.: ’Owaisi’s Bengal foray may prove boon for BJP’ by Syed Zubair Ahmad, dtd. November 18 2020, at <http://muslimmirror.com/eng/owaisis...> .
[52] Ref.: ’15 crore Muslims can dominate 100 crore Hindus, rants MIM rabble-rouser Waris Pathan’, dtd. February 20 2020, at <https://www.newindianexpress.com/na...> .
[53] Ref.: ’Akbaruddin Owaisi’ at <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Akbar...> .
[54] Ref.: ’Akbaruddin in trouble for hate speech’, dtd. Decmber 29 2012, at <https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com...> .
[55] Ref.: ’NPR, first phase of Census deferred due to national lockdown’ by PTI, dtd. March 24 2020, at <https://www.indiatoday.in/india/sto...> .
[56] Ref.: ’Assam final NRC list released: 19,06,657 people excluded, 3.11 crore make it to citizenship list’ by India Today Web Desk, dtd. August 31 2019 at <https://www.indiatoday.in/india/sto...> .
[57] Ref.: ’Over 2 Lakh "Undeserving" Names Likely In Assam NRC, High Court Told’ by Ratnadip Choudhury and Harish Pullanoor, dtd. December 10 2020, at <https://www.ndtv.com/india-news/ove...> .
[58] It’s necessary to note that about 2 million people, i.e. over 6%, have been refused a place in the list of citizens, or NRC, in the rather smallish state of Assam — which houses just 2.60% of Indian population (ref.: <http://statisticstimes.com/demograp...> ), where the operation has already been carried out on the basis of specially relaxed ground rules.
[59] Ref.: ’Will throw out all illegal aliens by 2024: Amit Shah’ by Siddharth Tiwari, dtd. October 17 2019, at <https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com...> .
[60] ’An All-India National Register of Citizens Will Be an Economic Disaster’ by Amit Shrivastava, dtd. December 9 2019, at <https://thewire.in/economy/all-indi...> .
[61] Ref. ’Why NRC must be shelved: It will be an expensive, gargantuan, pointless exercise that could trigger civil war in the worst case’ by Chetan Bhagat, dtd. January 18 2020, at <https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com...> .
[62] Ref.: ’NRC, NPR will create huge chaos, say lawyers, activists’ by Sonam Saigal, dtd. February 2 2010, at <https://www.thehindu.com/news/citie...> .
[63] Ref.: ’PM Modi uses silver brick to lay the foundation stone of Ram Mandir’ by Pawan Dixit, dtd. August 6 2020, at <https://www.hindustantimes.com/indi...> .
[64] Ref.: ’Ram Mandir an instrument to unite India, 5 August as important as 15 August, says PM Modi’ by Neelam Pandey, dtd. August 5 2020, at <https://theprint.in/india/ram-mandi...> .
[65] Ref.: ’PM Modi shares insights of book he is reading, says, ’I hope you read it too’’ by Staff Writer, dtd. November 20 2020, at <https://www.livemint.com/news/india...> .
[66] "This book represents one thread in progressing toward constructing through painstaking process of reforms, and mind-set-behavioural change to implement reforms consistent with the proposal in “A New Idea of India”."
(Ref.: ’A Book Review of “A New Idea of India: Individual rights in a Civilizational State” by Harsh Madhusudan and Rajeev Mantri’ by Mukul G. Asher, dtd. October 2020, at <https://www.researchgate.net/public...> .)
[67]

.
That this photo has been found out to be belonging to 2013 (ref.: <https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com...> ) only goes to underline that this showing off business is, in fact, an old habit — carefully cultivated.
It’s worth noting that except for the "pandemic" bit, all other points made in the tweet remain uncontroverted.
[68] "The central vista project, of which the centerpiece is the new Parliament Building, will also involve construction of the official residence for Prime Minister and Vice President."
(Ref.: ’VISTA .. PM Modi performs Bhoomi Poojan for new parliament building’ at <https://www.ezhavainternational.com...> .)
[69] Ref.: ’New Parl: Triangular shape reflects sacred geometry in various religions; national symbols theme of interiors’ by Team MP, dtd. December 10 2020, at <http://www.millenniumpost.in/nation...> .
[70] "The Modi regime claims the buildings erected by the British Raj that house India’s government and legislature are past their use by date and need to be urgently upgraded. But the secretive manner in which it has pushed through the project has cast doubts that it’s driven solely by utilitarian imperatives. One accusation is that it’s Modi’s “vanity project” to leave behind a legacy; another is that it’s a gravy train for builders and babus allied with the regime; yet another is that it’s a capture of the commons by the elite.
...
"The committee approved the project in a meeting on April 23 where none of its non-government members from the Indian Institute of Architects and the Institute of Town Planners were present. What was the hurry to clear the project in the absence of the outside experts?
...
"Balbir Verma, who represents the Indian Institute of Architects in the Central Vista Committee, was not convinced. “Such an important meeting to consider the proposed designs for the Parliament building — which happens maybe once in a hundred years — was held in the absence of all non-governmental external experts under the guise of urgency by ignoring the request for postponement of the meeting for a few days until lockdown restrictions had been lifted,” he complained. “What is the point of having experts on your panel when their opinion is not being sought on such a historic project?”"
(Ref.: ’Living heritage to go under the hammer’ by Hameeda Syedm dtd, May 22 2020, at <http://thepatriot.in/2020/05/22/liv...> .)
[71] "New laws are planned or already enacted by eight BJP-ruled states on “love jihad”, an absurd but vicious ploy portraying love marriage of Muslims with partners of other religions as holy war."
(Ref.: ’Apex court needs to strike down ‘love jihad’ laws’ by S A Aiyar, dtd. December 6 2020, at <https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com...> .)
[72] "... One can conclude that the most rampant crime in UP is two young people [a Muslim male and a Hindu female] falling in love and marrying! Hence it is engaging the attention of the Chief Minister and the entire police force, more than the growing number of cases of murder, rape, assault or theft to which the people are apparently accustomed as ‘normal‘ in UP.
"The ‘new’ normal for UP may become the new normal for India. That is scary."
(Ref.: ’The new normal is scary’ by P Chidambaram, dtd. December 13 2020, at <https://indianexpress.com/article/o...> .)
[73] Ref.: ’86% killed in cow-related violence since 2010 are Muslim, 97% attacks after Modi govt came to power’ by Delna Abraham and Ojaswi Rao, dtd. July 16 2017, at <https://www.hindustantimes.com/indi...> .
[74] Ref.: ’17,000-Page Delhi Riots Chargesheet Names Only Anti-CAA Protesters’ by Arvind Gunasekar and Divyanshu Dutta Roy, dtd. September 16 2020, at <https://www.ndtv.com/india-news/del...> .
[75] Ref.: ’Umar Khalid arrested in connection with northeast Delhi riots, slapped UAPA chatges’, by PTI, dtd. September 14 2020, at <https://www.onmanorama.com/news/nat...> .
[76] Ref.: ’SITUATION UPDATE AND ANALYSIS: JAMMU AND KASHMIR AFTER ONE YEAR OF ABROGATION OF ARTICLE 370’ at <https://amnesty.org.in/wp-content/u...> .
[77] Ref.: ’Unable to campaign freely, Jammu & Kashmir local body poll candidates ask for level playing field’, dtd. November 20 2020, at <https://www.newindianexpress.com/na...> .
[78] "If there is a moment in the history of independent India when she needs its minorities, underprivileged, its secularists and liberals to be standing together, it is this [emphasis added]. The relevance of the sanity of civil society needs to be firmly rooted more than ever. Muslims should remember that they are not the only ones who are at unease with the present election results. Liberals, social democrats, socialists, communists, large sections of the underprivileged, the poor, and sections of scholars, are all disheartened by the rise of a majoritarian nationalist government in India."
(Ref.: ’Despondency Is Not an Option for Muslims in India Today’ by Shah Alam Khan, dtd. June 6 2019, at <https://thewire.in/politics/despond...> .)
[79] Ref.: ’2019 Parliamentary Poll: Outcome: Drivers: Consequences: An Exploration’ by Sukla Sen, ’Conclusion’, dtd. June 15 2019, at <https://docs.google.com/document/d/...> .
[80] Ref.: ’How AIMIM Has Emerged As the Principal Challenger of the BJP, Not ’Secular’ Parties’ by Badri Raina, dtd. November 27 2020, at <https://thewire.in/politics/aimim-a...> .
[81] Ref.: ’The Owaisi syndrome’ by Mani Shankar Aiyar, dtd. December 6 2020, at <https://www.theweek.in/columns/Mani...> .

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