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HindustanTimes Thu,18 Sep 2014

Muslim clerics want Mamata to ally with Congress

Ravik Bhattacharya, Hindustan Times  Kolkata, March 20, 2014
First Published: 01:36 IST(20/3/2014) | Last Updated: 01:38 IST(20/3/2014)

Despite TMC chief Mamata Banerjee’s much publicised equidistance from the Congress and BJP, Muslim clerics in the state have started pressuring her for alliance with the Congress to keep BJP PM nominee Narendra Modi at bay.

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Muslims leaders — who form a significant part of her support base — voiced their concern over the BJP’s rapid growth in Bengal, stating that the TMC, which is all set to become the third largest party, should take steps to stop BJP from coming to power.

After Modi’s overtures to Banerjee during his February 5 Kolkata rally, Muslim clerics have come out in the open to resist the BJP.

Qari Fazlur Rehman, who leads the largest Eid congregation on Red Road and often seen as a critique of the TMC government, said, “All secular forces should join hands to thwart the communal party, which is trying not only to spread but also to grab power at the centre.”

Imam Nur-ur-Rehman Barkati, who is the closest to Banerjee, said the Muslims of Bengal want that she should join hands with the Congress. “Both Sonia Gandhi and Mamata Banerjee respect each other, and both have secular traditions. Both should try and thwart Modi from coming to power.”

The Muslims are believed to have thrown their weight solidly behind Banerjee in the 2011 assembly polls, and it will be difficult for the Bengal CM to brush aside the wishes of the community while deciding on her strategy.


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