West Bengal is on the BJP radar and how. Not only are its senior leaders making a beeline for Bengal, but they sound almost anxious to please chief minister Mamata Banerjee.
But while no one batted an eyelid over BJP chief Rajnath Singh’s visit, Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi’s overtures have raised hackles among a significant section of Trinamool Congress supporters — the Muslims.
Muslims comprise nearly 27% of Bengal’s population and the community has voted en bloc for Banerjee in the 2011 assembly elections. The possibility of proximity between the Trinamool and Modi — a favourite for the BJP’s prime ministerial candidate — has upset them greatly.
“If there is an understanding between Mamata and Modi, we will protest. Our community would feel injustice has been done,” said Qari Fazlur Rehman, who leads the largest Id congregation in the city at Red Road. “Knowing Modi’s track record of violence against Muslims, if Mamata supports him, we will take strong action.”
Siddiqullah Chowdhury, state president of All India United Democratic Front, was equally vehement.
“Mamata knows well the minority community’s feelings towards Modi. The community has still not forgotten the treatment he meted out to us. We would not support Mamata if she ties up with Modi and she would have to face the consequences,” he said.
While it would be difficult for the Trinamool Congress to write off the Muslim support, political observers feel that given the strained relations between the BJP and Nitish Kumar’s JD(U), Trinamool can be expected to fill the vaccum if Kumar chooses to walk out of the NDA.