When information broke on final week that hair stylist Jawed Habib had joined the BJP, his identify straight away began trending on Twitter. The final time this came about was once in 2017, when right-wing trolls had descended upon him for a tiny print commercial in a Kolkata newspaper.
The commercial, intended to announce reductions for Durga Puja, confirmed a caricature Durga and different deities chilling at a Habib’s salon. The photograph was once circulated on social media by way of women and men crying insult to Hinduism. Habib was once particularly centered for being a Muslim and puzzled if he’d ‘dare make amusing’ of the Prophet, at the same time as loads of West Bengal citizens used to a practice of humanising their gods defended the ad. The vitriol was once such that Habib was once compelled to apologise for the ingenious.
When the 56 12 months outdated joined the BJP, many of us recalled this incident.
“I’ve been the chowkidaar of other people’s hair, now I wish to be the country’s chowkidaar,” Habib stated, repeating the birthday party’s catchphrase for the election season.
Habib, who introduced his chain of salons 15 years in the past, has retailers and franchisees in just about all states in India. The fame stylist additionally runs 67 hairdressing academies. In an interview with HuffPost India, he tried to provide an explanation for why he joined the BJP and the way he negotiates being a Muslim BJP member amid allegations of persecution of minorities towards his birthday party.
When did you make a decision that you just officially sought after to enroll in politics?
See, I’m 56 years outdated. And for years, I’ve been offering talent coaching and schooling to 1000’s of other people in order that they may be able to earn their very own residing. The entire salons and academies I run supply employment to many of us. Now, I felt I sought after to enlarge the scope of talent and schooling thru my paintings as a birthday party member. I wish to do extra.
What made you sign up for the BJP particularly?
The final 5 years have had an enormous have an effect on on me and particularly all of the paintings that has been accomplished.
Are you able to give particular circumstances of the type of ‘paintings’ you might be regarding?
There was a large number of paintings that has been accomplished within the talent building sector previously 5 years. I’ve additionally labored with the governments of Maharashtra, West Bengal and different states to impart talent coaching. I’ve noticed how a lot paintings is being accomplished within the sector. The Nationwide Talent Construction Undertaking has a bit on attractiveness and wellness and I gave guided the direction and deliberate the paintings.
Loads of other people have come to our Mumbai place of job and brought hairdressing and different such lessons at very nominal charges.
We’ve got additionally accomplished coaching for the minority ministry. We had a number of centres for the learning of minority adolescence in towns like Varanasi.
BJP is going through severe accusations of discrimination towards Muslims. There were a number of incidents of lynchings of Dalits and Muslims previously 5 years. As a Muslim member of the birthday party, how do you procedure those accusations?
I’m an Indian and desi and I’m additionally a Muslim. I’m a face of the Muslim group of the rustic. As a accountable Muslim, I don’t consider in merely complaining towards problems going through the group. I wish to take motion and now not simply bitch.
How do you assume becoming a member of BJP will assist?
I’m certain that after I’m part of the birthday party, I will be able to discuss to its prime command and the folks concerning the problems going through the group and they’re going to indisputably pay attention to me.
So whilst becoming a member of the birthday party, did you speak about those problems?
No, I haven’t. I’ve joined the birthday party simply two days in the past, so I will be able to speak about this in time.
In Bengal, the place you’ve substantial trade pursuits, have you ever ever confronted any downside operating the trade or anything?
No, by no means. I’ve by no means confronted any factor anyplace within the nation. Even if Aamir Khan said that thing… I believed, I haven’t confronted any factor as a Muslim.
Proper. So in Bengal, many BJP leaders mock Mamata Banerjee as ‘Mumtaz’. Don’t you assume it’s insulting to Muslims?
(Laughs) It is a huge nation and many of us say many stuff. We must now not take note of what others are considering and stay on doing our paintings. That’s what I’m doing, I’m simply doing my paintings and that’s what I intend to do within the birthday party as smartly.
In 2017, you had been trolled and abused on-line for a Durga Puja advert.
So, I had now not noticed the ingenious of that advert and my grasp franchise in Kolkata revealed it. I instructed my grasp franchise not to do such issues and apologised as smartly.
Did you’re feeling pressurised to apologise? Numerous other people from Bengal, together with pro-BJP ones, additionally identified that the advert was once now not problematic and got here out on your make stronger.
See, a large number of other people message me now and I’ve been receiving messages asking why I wished to enroll in politics. It’s great if other people regarded as the advert ok and all. However I felt I must apologise again then, so I did.
You may have labored and marketed in West Bengal for over a decade now and plenty of commercials had been revealed. Does that proven fact that this actual advert changed into one of these massive factor trouble you and point out a transformation within the political environment of the rustic?
I in point of fact don’t perceive why it changed into one of these giant factor. Folks must additionally call to mind all of the paintings I’ve accomplished right here. I’ve academies and salons throughout India which make use of roughly nine,000 other people at once. By way of that connection, I’m accountable for serving to run nearly nine,000 households on this nation and extra thru franchises. I’ve now not accomplished all this only for myself, I’ve accomplished this for the rustic most effective. Shouldn’t other people consider that as smartly?
The truth that it changed into a subject matter, what does it say concerning the political environment within the nation?
I’ve now not confronted anything else over this. It was once been very non violent anyplace I’ve long gone.
Ok, so when the debate came about, other people had been taking you aside on Twitter and concentrated on you for being a Muslim.
I’m an Indian first. Earlier than anything else, I’m an Indian, and I belong to India. This is my first id. We’re execs, and after we make use of other people in our organisation, we don’t see if that particular person is a Hindu or a Muslim or a Christian. We see if she or he is a qualified. We don’t consider faith.
Whilst researching for this text, I got here throughout articles and photographs of BJP other people demonstrating along with your posters, towards you.
I feel it was once a delicate factor and I got here ahead and apologised. After which I didn’t face anything else a lot.
So, possibly you’ve the privilege of distancing your self from a factor akin to this, as a star. However what does it say concerning the scenario of minority communities who don’t have that?
I feel celebrities face greater than standard other people, as a result of it’s simple to focus on public figures.
Additionally, let’s now not communicate minorities. We’re Indians. All of us must be secure. Let’s now not speak about about minority-majority, we must be secure.
You stated that you wish to have to paintings in schooling and ability building. How do you intend to do it?
My paintings, ‘nai ka kaam’ (a barber’s process), by no means is going out of style. One way or the other, other people will lower their hair no? In any town or the town, you stroll round a neighbourhood or a marketplace, in an extended line of stores there will likely be no less than three stores which will likely be salons or barber stores. We weren’t hit by way of recession even. I wish to be sure that the lads who earn Rs10 by way of reducing hair at the roadside can earn Rs 100 no less than by way of studying some elementary talents.