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A video titled "The real communal face of the Aam Aadmi Party" is doing the rounds, and shows Shazia Ilmi recommending that Muslims become communal. If we go by word counts, we can end the post right here with "OMG communal", but is it really communal in the manner usually condemned?

This is the video

Here's a transcript by a volunteer.

Shazia seated along with long bearded people

Shazia : me to manti hu musalman k liye insaniyat ke khuda ke waste itne secular na baniye

Guy One : nahi nahi humko banna padhega aur kaam karna padhega, humare islam k khilaf jo kaam karoge to hume karna padhega..
Shazia : mein to ulta kehti hu.. Me kehti hu musalman bahut secular hai.. Musalmanon ko communal hona padega pehli baat.. Musalman communal nahi hai.. Apnon ko nahi deta he vo.. Aravind Kejriwal aap ke apne hai. Ham to kah rahe he.. Secular bahut ho gaya musalman. Ya congress ko jita rahe hai, kisi aur ko.. jo apna nuksan kar rahe hai.. Aap log itna secular mat huiye.. ab apne ghar ka dekiye.. Na huiye itna secular...Musalman secular hai.. Dete rahte hai auron ko vote.. Baki partiyon to nahi karthe hai kuch.. hamare vote bighadthe hai. Apna faida sochna.. Bahut controversial baat hai.. lekin saroori baat hai.
Guy Two : kuch baat to aap sahi keh rahi hai wo baat apni jagah sahi hai lekin humare zimme do kaam hai daro aur harao, dare bhi hum haraye bhi hum aur malayi khaye dusre
Shazia : kaam badal dijiye ladho aur jeeto

Guy Two : abhi apne sarfaraz arzoo se baat ki na aur aise bahut sare log hai

Shazia: sarfaraz bhai se puchiyega ????

I want to make this clear that this is how I see this situation. Your mileage may vary. Also note that I have no idea what the Aam Aadmi Party stand on this is. Last I heard, they were condemning. I see a very ignorant person, but not someone who is "communal" or "polarizing" or even aware what the words "secular" and "communal" actually mean (and apparently neither do those sitting with her). Ironically, she actually seems to be talking them down from a communal high.

For those who don't understand Hindi, here's a rough translation:

Shazia seated along with long bearded people

Shazia : I am saying for the sake of God don't be so secular

Guy One : no no, we will have to and act. If you act against our Islam, then we will have to act.

Shazia : I am saying the opposite. I am saying Muslims are very secular. Muslims will have to become communal. Muslims are not communal. They don't vote for their own. Arvind Kejriwal (who is not a Muslim) is your own. I am saying Muslims have become too secular. Either you make Congress win, or someone else and suffering losses on themselves. Don't be so secular, see to your own home. Don't be so secular. Muslims are secular, keep giving votes to others. Other parties don't so anything, only spoil (waste?) our votes. Think for your own advantage. This is controversial, but essential to say.

Guy Two : what you are saying is somewhat right in its own way, but our role/task remains at two things. Fear and defeat [competing candidates]. We fear and we defeat [political opponents] and the rewards are reaped by someone else.

Shazia : change your task and win

Guy Two : you spoke with sarfaraz arzoo now, right? there are  many others like him

Shazia: Ask sarfaraz bhai????

If you go by the dictionary meaning of "secular" and "communal", this above conversation makes no sense. Shazia Ilmi is asking the people to not be secular and recommending that they be communal, but how? By telling them not to vote for those who usually represent their comminity and exploit their votes for political gain. She is telling them to support Kejriwal, who is a Hindu.

In fact, when "Guy one" initially disagreeing with her is a full on Alice in Wonderland moment if you go by the Oxford dictionary. Shazia says for Gods sake don't be secular. Guy one negates this (implying they will have to be secular) if someone acts against Islam and they will have to act. So, acting on a religious threat is passing as secularism for this group.

Either she is doped, or she has learned what secular and communal mean from Indian politics and its unique warped "opposing sides". If you are a Hindu zealot, you are communal, which means if you are a Muslim zealot, you are secular in the name of protecting minorities - essentially, both sides operate from a premise of religious loyalty. It is also how Mayawati actively chasing dalit votes is not seen as communal, because you have to be an upper caste Hindu to be communal. Mayawati is secular. All dalit community should vote for her. This is the brain damage our opportunistic and exploitative political leadership has inflicted on the country by lobbing labels at each other to the point they make no sense.

It is in this that Shazia Ilmi is wading. Recommending that they don't be secular. Meaning, that they don't vote on the basis of being a Muslim minority and bring someone to power who will again use their fear and their efforts to defeat the threat for political profit and forget about them, but to vote for "their own" - who happens to not be a Muslim. So how does communal compute? It doesn't.

Unless the community you are talking is not one of religion but caring. It is a cheesy explanation, but there is no other. It is exactly what Aam Aadmi Party tells everyone - Hindu, Muslim, Sikh, rich, poor, film stars, rickshaw drivers.... that it is YOUR party. If this is to be interpreted as Aam Aadmi Party being communal, then I imagine there will be mass conversions. And all AAP members will aslo change professions to rickshaw drivers, or bankers, or whatever.

In my view, Shazia Ilmi's only crime is monumental ignorance. It would not matter so much if it were a random worker, but a politician getting a ticket to contest elections in a country where communal politics rules ought to know the basic meaning of the words secular and communal, regardless of how they get warped in use. That said, it is impossible to know everything we don't know, till we find ourselves ignorant. I doubt if Shazia Ilmi is going to be confused about this again.

About the "polarization". It is a BJP con being run on social media that takes advantage of more political labels that can be flung regardless of meaning. To polarize anything, you need two entities. You speak with Hindus about Muslims, in a manner that highlights differences, you are polarizing. You speak with Muslims about Hindus in a manner that highlights differences, you are polarizing. You speak with Hindus about themselves, or Muslims about themselves, where is the polarization? It is merely conversation pertaining to the community. If speaking with Muslims about Muslims were polarizing, then BJP probably needs to trash the Ram Mandir from its manifest, yes? It isn't, which is why no one is screaming bloody murder about the manifesto, like they are, about Togadia, who is inciting Hindus about minorities (as opposed to talking about Hindus themselves). If Togadia spoke of the need to build a Ram Mandir, as long as he didn't mention other communities in a way that created ill will about them, he wouldn't be polarizing (though that one is tough, since Togadia has turned himself into a polarization symbol - but say if Modi spoke.)

Speaking of Modi and secular and communal, the BJP people yelling about criticism of secularism and promoting communalism may want to check out his Jammu speech. He pretty much knowingly rejects secularism and stops an inch short of thumping his 56 incher on being communal - within careful boundaries of the Model CODE of conduct.

Lastly, taking this opportunity to recommend YET AGAIN that AAP have some kind of code of conduct for representatives to follow when they interact on behalf of AAP. It is not merely about saying the wrong things, but as this incident proves, it is also about finding the right words for what people want to say. Given the state of our education system, public intellect and political stupidification, the abilities of various people to articulate the AAP view on various subjects will fluctuate wildly, and standard protocols will help bring some stability for everyone's speech. Shazia Ilmi is hardly the only reckless speaker in AAP.


Here is how I see the Lok Sabha Elections unfolding. If you want a TL;DR version, we'll be going for this circus all over again, soon. This is merely about where we are headed right now.

If you follow me on Twitter, I've said most of this there already. I was requested to write this post for some reason I can't fathom, but obliging the readers.

Indian National Congress

Not much to say here. They may get seats out of sheer inertia, but they have shown themselves incapable of thinking enough out of their patterns to expect much out of what has royally failed.

After 10 years of a notoriously private leadership, people have no idea what the country's leaders are all about. They do not want more of that, and that is the problem. Rahul Gandhi is trying valiantly to fix this, but it is too little, too late.

The musical chairs with the buck prevents it from stopping anywhere, and while the UPA2 government definitely pulled it off successfully, leaving the citizen too impotent to nail them and get answers, the voiceless people have an unerring instinct to use their voice in the one place it does damage - the polls. They do not want another round of looking foolish for being wronged, because no one has done wrong.

The final nail in the coffin will be the Frankenstein's monster they have unleashed on the country. They HAVE profited by pointing out to the Hindutva extremists and projecting themselves as the only available sane alternative for the country. The monster they were riding has now bucked them off and trampled them and is devouring them alive as they are held immobile.

Bharatiya Janata Party

Yep. The Frankenstein's Monster is growing even as it rots from within. BJP is not going to make an independent government. At best (and extremely unlikely) is an NDA government. I doubt this government will be of adequate strength to impose Modi on the country.

Chances are, Modi may never become an MP. His clinging to his Chief  Minister's chair even at this late date indicates that being Chief Minister of Gujarat and not going into the Parliament is still an option. I imagine Modi will not become an MP if he cannot be PM. He needs the power that comes with the Prime Minister's position (let's forget about Dr. Manmohan Singh for a moment) for major ass covering that is coming his way. When his cases in the Gujarat riots hit the Supreme Court, he is going to need an act (all puns intended) of God that a mere Minister cannot conjure up.

So, for Modi, this is a make or break gig, which currently looks more break than make. If Modi does win, it will be a blow to democracy, but a tribute to his advertizing skills.

The successful winning over of the corporations that formed cartels with UPA has worked well. Whether it is cheap lands, or opaque handshakes, Modi has got the top 1% of corporations in India controlling most of the power to put their eggs in the BJP basket instead of UPA. Where he once had to reach to a foreign firm to make himself look good in spite of relentless Indian media scrutiny, he can count on Indian media to cover up for him now.

That said, the psychological brute force wielded to make this possible has alienated him to many within BJP - particularly the seniors - left allies unsure of where they stand (witness allying with Shiv Sena while rejecting MNS, but getting Raj Thackeray to do a Rakhi Sawant tour of Indian media - where his party has no particular say with regard to National Elections). The sheer amount of stretching of truth that has been needed crumbles on scrutiny, and the development myth shakes at every communal message. The rest is a downhill of tu-tu-main-main, veiled communal threats and massive exhibitions of disregard for Indian constitution and laws. It doesn't help that most things they accuse others of turn out to be true about themselves.

The carpet bombing of the country is based on the new "education products" of adveritzing and management, where you believe that pushing your brand in everyone's face is what gets people to buy it. Unfortunately, for this theory, Parle G is the world's largest selling biscuit, so try guess how much it gets pushed in people's faces. The failure of education that divorces it from observable reality is ironically what will save India this election.

I disagree with Arvind Kejriwal that Modi losing Varanasi will mean that he cannot be PM. If Modi can win Ahmedabad, he will merely use spin doctors and still be PM if NDA can form the government. On the other hand, if NDA cannot form a government, or the Modi lobby cannot convince all allies to make Modi the PM, then even if Modi wins both his seats, he will abdicate both to continue as Chief Minister in Gujarat and opt for a PM whom he can dictate (Rajnath Singh seems to be promoted these days). He entered politics as CM and he will exit it rather than being a part of a team led by someone else.

Even if BJP wins, once this rush of money fades away, the party is going to splinter and bring down the government. The writing is on the wall - which is one of the reasons BJP is opting to install Modi puppets in as many seats as possible, even at the cost of dislodging senior leaders with mass bases - to survive when the fallout starts. Kirron Kher saying that Chandigarh was a seat to win for Modi isn't an accident, this is her highest attraction for the Modi lobby.

Togadia is a supporter of Modi. Ignore the spin doctors. I'll believe Togadia is not a Modi supporter the day he tells people not to vote for Modi or BJP under Modi. Don't hold your breath. Togadia is thrilled at the success of Gujarat riots under Modi and knows well that Modi is now completely dependent on the nuisance value of zealots to stay out of prison. Modi doesn't have to like Togadia to be useful. Witness his complete silence on the communal messages from his party. At best distancing himself and continuing to work to present a development smokescreen. Why in the world would Togadia have a problem with that? He's already said that Gujarat will be a completely Hindu state and Modi pretended not to hear it a week after Modi called for wooing Muslims. Modi calls Togadia's threat against minorities in majority areas as "irresponsible" - not a wrong view to have. Merely a wrong thing to say.

It is the classic good cop, bad cop routine, where both cops are herding you to the same destination. You are disgusted by Togadia? He is Modi's enemy. Voting for Modi is the best way to hit at him. You adore Togadia? Have patience. Gujarat model is growing.

This is basically the complete reinvention of India on the cards and will not happen easily. Unfortunately, with the kind of deals with the devil BJP has done to make it possible, it won't die easily either. One way or the other, India is destined to suffer from the choices already made.

The good news is that parts of the corporate consensus on Modi are hedging their bets. This indicates a possibility that they may not support him beyond the election if he fails - but work with whoever wins. The others remain devoted to Modi. This faction will leverage nuisance value against any non-Modi-led government that forms. A comprehensive defeat of BJP will end this farce. It is unlikely given the kind of money poured in and the sheer diversity of manipulations employed.

A third front

This is possibly the best thing that could happen to India in this stage. A third front with or without a decimated Congress (not with Congress as largest party). It is not looking very concrete at the moment, but given the sheer political splintering in the country, if it doesn't happen now, we might as well forget it.

Aam Aadmi Party

Aam Aadmi Party is the wildcard this elections. It has in its wake a swathe of broken stereotypes and naysayer predictions. It remains to be seen if the skepticism of a media that doesn't even have an entry in its surveys for a party with 450+ candidates joins the debris of the AAP rise.

Given the distortion of news on the Aam Aadmi Party, it is difficult to make an estimation of their impact on the ground, which is probably a good thing, since a poll showing AAP getting very few seats in Delhi (probably doctored) saw a massive wave of media negativity against it in Delhi Assembly Elections. Regardless, news about AAP could be accurate, distorted or reported by AAP themselves resulting in wild fluctuations in terms of its ability to represent what is going on. So cannot get a sense of what their prospects are.

Going by poll surveys, they get between zero to five seats. Others say double digits, which is as disparate as 19 and 99.

If we are to go by the amount of resources BJP has invested in discrediting AAP as a viable option for people (far more than that for discrediting the Congress, which is in theory the real contender and the largest party in country), one would imagine that they are serious competition for BJP - which would put it between 160 seats by my guess and 250 seats by BJP supporter claims. This, of course assumes that BJP spending on hate campaigns is determined by data from campaigning that identifies threat and not random fixation (which is also possible - BJP is not very sane these days - in which case, this source of behavioral data would be useless).

The other part of the AAP threat to BJP of course is that AAP will have ready support from several parties if it chooses to form a government, and it will be out of "cartel control" so to say, since on a National level, AAP will hardly have no alternative except the BJP mirror Congress. Entities that have traditionally allied with BJP have appreciated AAP, including Raj Thackeray and Mamata Banerjee - who had also endorsed their calls for RTI for political parties through ALL MPs from their party. They may not support AAP now, but they have made their appreciation clear in the past, and if AAP is in a position better than those holding their support strings? Who knows? Navin Patnaik, Nitish Kumar, Mayawati have been seen as vaguely hopeful, even. CPI-ML is actually endorsing Kejriwal in Varanasi to aid in defeating Modi. If AAP is in a position to form a government with support, there is going to be no dearth of support, because smaller parties, like the people of India had no real choice beyond BJP-NDA and Congress-UPA either so far. So far AAP claims to be independent, and it genuinely is, when it comes to chasing their manifesto. But this doesn't mean that it won't pull off a Delhi surprise again, particularly if it means keeping both Congress and BJP out of power.


Of course, this is dependent on how many seats AAP gets. It could indeed get five. But the risk is there, because at this stage, no one knows.

But the cartels are taking no risks. In Varanasi at least, it appears as though BJP, Congress and SP are leaving each other alone to target Kejriwal.

Regardless, AAP is unlikely to form a government with a clean majority, and anything less is going to collapse under the nuisance value of cartels who do NOT want AAP to reform their cash cows into oblivion.

AAP should also consider the possibility of supporting a third front if it forms, if it results in Congress and BJP being in opposition. This will create space for reforms that allow more action against political cartels.

It will also provide some stability aganst the combined nuisance value of the two biggest parties and their owners

This is basically stuff I've said on Twitter over time. No idea why people want me to put it all in one place. I'm neither an "expert" nor using real statistics. Merely observing nuances that indicate what may really be happening.

Might be interesting to check back in a month, though 😀