Is Asaduddin Owaisi communalising demonetisation

Outspoken Hyderabad parliamentarian Asaduddin Owaisi has managed to add a ‘Muslim angle’ to the whole demonetisation debate.

The leader of political outfit All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) said on Monday that those living in predominantly Muslim neighborhoods in India were among the worst of sufferers on account of the ongoing demonetisation drive.

“ATMs in Muslim-dominated areas were not functioning. If a bank is open (in Muslim areas), it is declared red zone,” the MP from Hyderabad was reported saying.

He alleged that just one to two percent of India’s Muslims had a credit card, so working towards a “cashless” economy would put them at a definite disadvantage.

His controversial remarks came after a meeting in Udgir in Marathawada, a Maharashtra region where the Hyderabad-based party is seeking to consolidate its electoral fortunes. AIMIM won a seat in the region in the local government election in 2014, one of its first major political victories outside its home state of Telangana.

His comments may help him tap into the dissatisfaction being experienced in sections of the public, which throughout the country is facing ramifications of Nov 8’s demonetisation decision in the form of severe cash crunch for households and slump in earnings for small and medium business owners.

A recent survey found that support for demonetisation in Indian cities, largely due to poor implementation, has dropped to 39 per cent, from 51 per cent a week after the decision was announced. Owaisi seems to be aware of this, as he carefully intertwined his personal attacks on Modi with criticism of the government’s currency ban decision in his comments.

A vocal critic of Prime Minister Modi’s policies since the days he was the chief minister of Gujarat, Owaisi took potshots at the BJP strongman, calling him a “tyrant”.

(Source: Youtube)

Owaisi also bemoaned the lack of “adequate banking infrastructure” in Muslim areas, going on to even claim that less bank loans were given out in these localities as compared to rest of the country.

AIMIM, the party which Owaisi leads, has in recent past seen several of its leaders, including Owaisi’s younger brother Akbaruddin, being accused of making hate speeches at their political rallies. Critics also accuse AIMIM of practicing identity politics.