31 July, 2021

Capped Crusader

A vote-cutter or a voice of the Muslims? A messiah or a mole? A secularist or a mirror image of the Hindu Right? Questions swirl as the mysterious Mr Owaisi rises nationally….

Photograph by P.V. Sivakumar
Capped Crusader

Occasionally, an entity seems to possess power far beyond what’s quantifiable. Of all the chess pieces, for instance, the knight possesses the most intriguing qualities. Despite a limited range, its odd two-and-one, onward-and-sideways dance step allows it mobility in any direction, a certain unpredictability. It’s unique for another reason: it can jump over occupied squares, and so cannot be blockaded. Its potency, therefore, increases as it advances. The figure of a knight is advancing over the Indian political chessboard as we speak. To some who behold it, he appears in shining armour; to others, he seems a disconcerting interloper. Even to the neutral observer—if there is any that can manage neutrality towards the figure of Asaduddin Owaisi—he seems to contain the unknown quality of a googly. His party just hit the headlines by contesting Bihar, winning five assembly seats. And now Bengal looms. Everyone is trying to fathom how this four-time Lok Sabha MP has grown beyond his little island of Hyderabad, to Maharashtra first, and with sallies right into...

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