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West Bengal Assembly Elections: Why Getting Muslims’ Votes Could Be Difficult For Mamata Banerjee | India News

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NEW DELHI: With the Indian Secular Front (ISF) led by Pirzada Abbas Siddiqui and All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) chief Asaduddin Owaisi courting Muslims, West Bengal’s chief minister, led by Mamata Banerjee Trinamool Banerjee (TMC) faces a significant risk of losing the decisive votes of the community in the upcoming assembly elections.
The challenge to the TMC had already gotten serious with Owaisi announcing his plans to contest the next state elections in a considerable number of seats. The threat has grown more serious with Congress planning to forge an alliance with the ISF now.
Muslims constitute 30% of the population of West Bengal and their votes are decisive in 100-110 of the 294 seats in the assembly, located mainly in the districts of Kolkata, Murshidabad, Malda and Dinajpur. The Mamata-led TMC had retained the post in 2016 by winning 204 constituencies with crucial help from these Muslim-dominated seats.
Since Mamata Banerjee took office in her first season in 2011, she has been courting Muslims by announcing various awards to them.
For example, his TMC government awarded a monthly stipend of up to 2,500 rupees to some 60,000 imams and muezzins, distributed bicycles to female students enrolled in madrasahs, extended scholarships to Muslim students from class I to X, offered reservations to Muslim CBOs, and declared the Urdu as a second language in Muslim population districts.
In addition to these, his government had banned a television series written by activist Taslima Nasreen in December 2013 after Muslim fundamentalists opposed it.
Due to her Muslim appeasement, he often mocks her by calling her “Mumtaz Begum.”
After winning five seats, all in the Muslim-dominated Seemanchal region, in last year’s Bihar assembly elections, AIMIM has announced that it will seriously contest the West Bengal elections. This has shaken Mamata Banerjee.
Without naming AIMIM, he claimed it was BJP’s B-team. She has recorded that to split the Muslim votes, the BJP is spending millions of rupees to bring in a party from Hyderabad. “The plan is that the BJP will eat the Hindu votes, and this Hyderabad party will eat the Muslim votes … In the recent elections in Bihar, they did the same. This match is a BJP team, “he said.
Owaisi responded by saying that Muslim voters were not Banerjee “jagir” (personal property). “A man was never born who can buy Asaduddin Owaisi with money,” said the deputy from Hyderabad’s Lok Sabha.
Not only the TMC and AIMIM, but now the Congress has also decided to work towards obtaining Muslim votes in alliance with the ISF. On February 4, the West Bengal Congressional unit requested the approval of the party’s president, Sonia Gandhi, to start negotiations with Pirzada Abbas Siddiqui and form a grand alliance for the assembly elections.
The leader of the state Congress, Abdul Mannan, who is also the leader of the opposition in the assembly, wrote a letter to Sonia Gandhi and said that an “unofficial dialogue” with the ISF had already begun and that the president of the WBPCC, Adhir Chowdhury, visited Siddiqui of the Furfura Sharif shrine.
“The addition of the ISF to the Left-Congress alliance may change the rules of the game in the next assembly elections … I have started an unofficial dialogue with the ISF and the PCC president visited Siddiqui’s house recently. He has discussed the issue with me and is seeking my help due to my personal relationship with the Pirzada Siddiqui family for decades, “said Mannan.
He stated that CPM politburo member Md Salim has also started talks with Siddiqui. Mannan further said: “He (Siddiqui) is popular for his speaking skills among Muslims, as well as Dalits and Tribes,” adding that thousands of people gather at his meetings in minority, tribal and Dalit areas.
Stating that 30 percent of the state’s population are Muslims, he said that 90 percent are Bengali-speaking and are the traditional vote bank of Congress.
The Muslim cleric, a fourth-generation descendant of Sufi saint Hazrat Abu Bakr Siddiqui, heads the popular Furfura Sharif shrine in the Hooghly district. He has called the congressional move a “positive development.” Pirzada, 34, said: “It is a positive development. But it is too early to comment on the subject. .. Let’s see how things develop. ”
Pirzada, who became the first West Bengal religious leader to enter politics, wishes to be the kingmaker after the assembly elections.
Siddiqui lashed out at the Mamata government, claiming it had done “more harm than good” to Muslims by creating a divide between Hindus and Muslims.
Not to be outdone, the BJP is also making some efforts to gain the trust of Muslims. He has held Muslim conferences before the 2018 Bengal Panchayat elections. He gave tickets to more than 850 candidates from the Muslim community, 27 of whom had won. He ran six Muslim candidates in the 2016 assembly elections, although no one won.
With the race for Muslim votes increasingly challenging, Mamata Banerjee faces a challenge in the upcoming assembly elections.

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