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Asaduddin Owaisi (born 13 May 1969) is an Indian politician, who is the President of the All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen. He is a four-time Member of Parliament (MP), representing the Hyderabad constituency in Lok Sabha, the lower house of the Indian Parliament. For years, he has been regularly listed one among the 500 Most Influential Muslims in the world. Owaisi has been in controversies and news due to his politics primarily centred around minorities like Muslims and Dalits. His father Sultan Salahuddin Owaisi and brother Akbaruddin Owaisi are also politicians.
Early life and background
Owaisi was born to Sultan Salahuddin Owaisi and Najmunnisa Begum on 13 May 1969. He comes from the political family of Hyderabad. His grandfather Abdul Wahed Owaisi relaunched the political party Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen as All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen 18 September 1957. He also succeeded Qasim Razvi as the party president after he was released from prison.
His father Sultan Salahuddin was elected to the Andhra Pradesh Legislative Assembly in 1962. Sultan Salahuddin Owaisi was elected to the Indian Parliament from the Hyderabad constituency for the first time in 1984 and continued winning the elections till 2004 when he stepped down in favour of Asaduddin. He died in 2008. Asaduddin Owaisi completed his graduation with a Bachelor of Arts from Nizam College (Osmania University) in Hyderabad.
He represented the South Zone inter-university U-25s cricket team as a fast bowler in the Vizzy Trophy in 1994 and later got selected in the South Zone university team. He is a barrister by profession and studied at Lincoln's Inn of London. His brother Akbaruddin Owaisi is a Member of the Telangana Legislative Assembly and heads the party in it. His youngest brother Burhanuddin Owaisi is the editor of Etemaad.
Owaisi married Farheen Owaisi on 11 December 1996. The couple has six children which include one son, Sultanuddin Owaisi (born 2010) and five daughters- Khudsia Owaisi, Yasmeen Owaisi, Ameena Owaisi, Maheen Owaisi and Atika Owaisi. His mother is Nazima Begum. He lives in Shastripuram, Mailardevpally, Hyderabad. His eldest daughter Khudsia Owaisi was engaged to Barkat Alam Khan, grandson of Nawab Shah Alam Khan (paternal) and Moinuddin Khan Sandozai (maternal) on 24 March 2018.
His second daughter, Yasmeen Owaisi was married to Abid Ali Khan, son of physician Mazhar Ali Khan, cousin of Zahid Ali Khan, editor of The Siasat Daily, in September 2020. He is hailed by his supporters as Naqeeb-e-Millat (Leader of the Community). He is fluent in Urdu / Hindi and English. He wears a long sherwani, an Islamic cap and sports a clipped beard.
Owaisi belongs to the Hyderabad-based All-India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) party, of which his father and grandfather have been presidents. The party, while opposed to jihadist terrorism, still practises a politics of "competitive chauvinism," according to journalist Kingshuk Nag. Owaisi made his political debut in 1994 in the Andhra Pradesh Legislative Assembly election. Contesting from the Charminar constituency which his party has been winning since 1967, he defeated his nearest rival a breakaway party Majlis Bachao Tehreek's candidate by a margin of 40 thousand votes.
He succeeded Virasat Rasool Khan as the elected representative from the constituency. In the 1999 election, he defeated his nearest rival Telugu Desam Party candidate Syed Shah Noorul Haq Quadri by 93 thousand votes. Owaisi has polled 126 thousand votes in the election. In the 2004 election, he was succeeded by Syed Ahmed Pasha Quadri as the member of the Assembly from the constituency. In 2004, Owaisi's father Sultan Salahuddin Owaisi who had been representing the Hyderabad constituency in the Lok Sabha (lower house of the Indian parliament) refused to contest further citing poor health.
The constituency has a 70% Muslim population. He has polled 38% votes compared to his nearest rival Subhas Chanderji's 28%. In 2008, the Left Front (which consisted of Communist Parties) withdrew their support to the central government of India which was led by the United Progressive Alliance.
This was done in response to Indo-US nuclear deal signed by Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and US President George W. Bush which allowed India to keep nuclear bombs but in return had to allow international inspection. The Communist parties felt that by this deal, India would become a pawn of the United States. Due to the Left Front withdrawing support, a vote of confidence was held in the Indian Parliament. When Uttar Pradesh chief minister Mulayam Singh Yadav claimed that Muslims of India opposed the deal, Owaisi said that it was an attempt to give a communal angle to the deal. Owaisi announced his support for the United Progressive Alliance in the vote of confidence.
He claimed that his top priority was to prevent the opposition right-wing Bharatiya Janata Party to ascend to power and to prevent Lal Krishna Advani from becoming the country's Prime Minister. He further stated: We will express our reservations on the foreign policy impact but at no cost would we like to see the BJP coming into power, at no cost we would like to see Mr Advani, who is an accused in the Babri Masjid demolition case becoming the prime minister of this great nation, thereby destroying the future of Muslims and weakening the secularism.
In the 2009 Indian general election, Zahid Ali Khan, the editor-in-chief of an Urdu daily The Siasat Daily was pitted against Owaisi. He was supported by rival Telegu Desam Party, Telangana Rashtra Samithi, Communist Party of India, Communist Party of India (Marxist). Hindustan Times wrote that the AIMIM party faced "tough challenge" in the Hyderabad constituency.
However, Owaisi emerged victoriously and defeated Ali Khan by a margin of 110 thousand votes. He increased the winning margin by 10 thousand votes as compared to the 2004 election. Owaisi was awarded the 2014 Sansad Ratna award (Gem of parliamentarians) in October 2013 for his performance in the 15th session of the Indian parliament. During this period, he asked 1080 questions in Parliament compared to the national average of 292. His attendance at 70% was 6% short of the national average.
The Milli Gazette wrote that he "has gained wide respect nationally among Indian Muslims for his bold speeches in Lok Sabha (lower house of the Indian parliament)". He took up issues in the Parliament that pertained to the interests of the minority community. Also when he raised the issue of waqf properties in the parliament, the then Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh confessed that it was a fault of his ministry in not recognising waqf as a serious matter.
In April 2014, Owaisi filed his nomination for the Hyderabad constituency in the 2014 general election. He declared movable assets worth 2.7 million rupees (around $42,000) and immovable assets worth 30 million rupees (around $463,000). He was elected from the constituency once again by defeating his nearest rival Bharatiya Janata Party's Bhagvanth Rao by a margin of 197 thousand votes.
Owaisi announced that his party AIMIM would contest the 2015 Bihar Legislative Assembly election mainly from the Muslim dominated area of the Seemanchal region of the state. News18 India wrote that the party candidates would divide votes and the voters suspected him of being an agent of the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party.
He said that he was realistic about their chances of winning. He claimed that the Seemanchal region was underdeveloped and he blamed Bihar's Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, the Indian National Congress party and Bharatiya Janata Party for it. He said that his aim was to pressurise the government to create a regional developmental council for the region. Although the party contested six constituencies of the Seemanchal region, it failed to win any seat. Owaisi, who filed his nomination for Hyderabad Lok Sabha constituency for 4th time declared assets worth over Rs 13 crore but he owns no vehicle.
Several commentators liken Owaisi to Jinnah, though Owaisi has opposed Jinnah's Two-nation theory every time. According to Patrick French, Owaisi appeals to "non-sectarian Muslim identity," though not to the Muslim faith, in a way similar to Jinnah's bid to be the sole spokesman of the Muslim community. His brand of Islamism with nationalism thrives in Hyderabad Old City and Mumbai Owaisi dismisses the comparison with Jinnah citing the fact that his fight is within the framework of the Indian constitution.
He says that the secular parties of India have not been able to transfer their votes to Muslim candidates. Of the 23 Muslim MPs elected in 2014, 18 or 19 were from constituencies with 30% Muslim voters. While the parties claim not to discriminate against Muslims, they in practice leave the Muslims in a "ghettoized position." Hence, Muslims must develop their own political force, similar to OBCs, Dalits and Yadavs.
In the aftermath of the 2008 Mumbai attacks, Owaisi demanded action against Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi and Hafiz Saeed for killing innocent people. He said that the enemies of the country were enemies of Muslims. Owaisi supports reservation for backward Muslims in government jobs and educational institutes.
He also maintains stand that he is against Hindutva ideology but not against Hindus. Owaisi argues for the abolition of the Haj subsidy given to the Indian Muslims for travelling to Mecca on a religious pilgrimage and utilising the money for the education of Muslim women instead.
In July 2016, Owaisi was praised for his speech Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS) is a problem among Muslims and called them dogs of hell. Owaisi said in his speech, which was delivered after the 2016 Saudi Arabia bombings to monitor what is being said from some mosques, what and who is injecting radical venom.
In August 2016, Asaduddin Owaisi expressed his displeasure at the centre for inclusion of the Ahmadiyya community as a sect of Islam in the 2011 Census of India, in a series of tweets.
In April 2017, on the issue of a ban on cow slaughter, Owaisi criticised BJP for being hypocritical in treating cow as holy in Uttar Pradesh and North Indian states, but un-holy in the Northeast, Goa and Kerala." Owaisi said that Muslim men divorcing their wife through instant triple talaq without reasons, must be socially boycotted, but said that the practise still exists.
In December 2018, Owaisi told Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan to learn inclusive politics of India, when Pakistan can't even have a non-Muslim President. After BJP's massive victory in the 2019 Indian general election, Owaisi said the EVMs are not rigged, instead, Hindu minds have been rigged. In June 2019, Owaisi said that Rahul Gandhi won from Wayanad (Lok Sabha constituency) due to 40% Muslim population.
Controversies about Asaduddin Owaisi
Owaisi has been in controversies and news due to his politics primarily centred around minorities like Muslims and Dalits. Owaisi, along with his younger brother Akbaruddin was booked for charges related to manhandling the Medak district collector in 2005. On 20 January 2013, he was remanded to judicial custody for 14 days, and later shifted to Sangareddy jail.
The case related to a MIM protest against the demolition of a mosque for a road-widening project in Medak district, on 16 April 2005 where police booked him under various charges including criminal intimidation, rioting and promoting enmity between religious groups. In 2009, a case was registered against Owaisi on the order of the Election Commission of India for chasing and beating up Syed Saleemuddin, a polling agent of Telugu Desam Party (TDP) in the Moghalpura area.
In March 2013, he was detained for organising a rally without permission and carrying a gun without a licence in Bidar, Karnataka. In June 2014, Owaisi is said to have delivered a hate speech against Prime Minister Narendra Modi seeking the Muslim community's support to his party.
In January 2015, Owaisi said that every child in the world is born as a Muslim, and his parents and society convert him to other religions. He also said Islam is the real home of all religions.
On 7 February 2016, Owaisi surrendered before Hyderabad police and was later granted bail for an assault by a mob that he allegedly leads, carried out against Telangana Indian National Congress legislators. His close aide Syed Abdahu Kashaf and AIMIM Party social Media head assaulted the congress MLC and leader of opposition Shabbir Ali.
In March 2016, while addressing a public rally in Maharashtra, Owaisi said that he will never say the slogan Bharat Mata Ki Jai (Hail Mother India) in response to Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh chief Mohan Bhagwat's comment that the new generation needs to be taught to chant slogans hailing mother India referring to 2016 JNU sedition controversy.
Owaisi said, "Whom is he(Bhagwat) trying to frighten? He can't force his ideology on others. Nowhere in the Constitution it says that one should say: 'Bharat Mata ki Jai' ".
Later he clarified that he has no issues with the slogan 'Bharat Mata ki Jai', but he has objection with RSS who forces to chant the slogan as test of patriotism.