ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Mushairah as Public Sphere and an Archive

Poetry of Belonging: Muslim Imaginings of India 1850–1950 by Ali Khan Mahmudabad, New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 2020; pp xviii + 325, 1,595.


In November 2018, the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) sitting member of the legislative assembly from Okhla cons­ti­tu­ency in New Delhi organised a mushairah in the premises of a government school near Jamia Nagar—a predo­minantly Muslim locality. The occasion was the inauguration of a new building block in the school by deputy chief minister Manish Sisodiya, who also holds the education portfolio in Delhi government. Sisodia tweeted about the “electrifying mushairah” and commended the locals for their enthusiasm for education (Indian Express 2019). This mushairah—which was also attended by two of AAP’s high-profile member of Parliament candidates Raghav Chaddha and Atishi Marlena—was seen in media as a kickoff event of the AAP campaign for 2019 general elections (Jha 2019).

On 25 October, just a fortnight before the mushairah, an eight-year-old boy, Mohd Azeem had died after being beaten up by a group of children near his madrasa in Begumpur, Malviya Nagar. News reports indicated that the incident was borne out of routine harassment of the madrasa children incited by some locals (Kanojia 2018). On social media, AAP was decried by many Muslims for what was seen as the government’s active obfuscation of anti-Muslim violence. Whether or how far the mushairah had an impact on Muslim voters’ inclination towards AAP cannot be said with certainty, but in this well-­attended mushairah, Sisodiya and crowd-puller poet Imran Partapgarhi framed the AAP politics as one of building schools as opposed to the politics of building mandir. Since then, much water has flown under the bridge between communalism and electoral politics. Partapgarhi, who praised AAP for their politics of good governance, joined the Congress party, and AAP has kicked off its campaign for the 2022 Uttar Pradesh (UP) assembly elections with Sisodiya and Arvind Kejriwal in Ayodhya, the city of the demolished Babri Masjid and the upcoming Ram Mandir.

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Updated On : 15th Feb, 2022
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