State BJP president Rahul Sinha and Murshidabad District Congress president and MP Adhir Chowdhury agreed that the Centre’s decision to set up Aligarh Muslim University was the principal factor that almost defeated the Congress and led to a dramatic rise of the BJP vote bank in Jangipur parliamentary by-elections.
Sinha claimed that in 2014 Lok Sabha polls, his party would defeat the Congress’ Avijit Mukherjee. Meanwhile, Adhir announced Avijit has to be replaced by a Muslim candidate in 2014 or else the Congress would lose the seat.
The Congress’ decision to set up Aligarh Muslim University over 150 acres of land at Ahiron in Jangipur parliamentary constituency by forcibly acquiring agricultural land and homesteads from the farmers threatened the minorities and made them vote against the Congress’ former Nalhati MLA and son of former Jangpur MP and President Pranab Mukherjee, Avijit.
All the anti- Congress Muslims votes went to the CPI(M) candidate Mozzaffar Hossain and BJP’s Sudhangshu Biswas.
“We had built up a movement against the forcible occupation of land. Jangipur has 64% Muslims and they resented the AMU decision. We had 2% votes in 2009 Lok Saha polls and it has shot up to 12 %,” said Sinha.
Adhir, who had all along opposed the AMU decision, said the forcible acquisition of land unnerved Muslims in this minority-dominated parliamentary seat.
Result: the Muslims swung towards the CPI(M) and BJP. And Hindus of the Jangipur, Suti and Raghunathganj Town voted for the BJP.
“Out of the seven Assembly segments in Jangipur Lok Sabha seat, we lost Nabagram, Suti, Sagardighi and Jangipur. And won three segments of Khargram, Lalgola and Raghunathganj.
“We are fortunate three Muslim candidates of the CPI( M), We l fare Party and the SDPI contested or else the BJP would have done us in,” said Adhir. Sinha said the Congress’ antipeople policies and the Muslim appeasement of the Congress and the state government also made their vote bank swell from 21,000 votes in 2009 general elections to 88,000 in this Jangipur by-poll.
“How will a poor Muslim benefit, if an imam gets salary? Muslims rejected this state government policy. Many Muslims have started joining us and the Hindus are rallying around us because of the blatant Muslim appeasement,” said Sinha. Sinha also alleged the Congress conspired against the BJP and slapped false cases against them to prevent them from entering Jangipur.
As a result, neither the state nor the central BJP leadership could campaign for Sudhangshu Biswas.
“If we had campaigned we would have polled much more,” said Sinha. Adhir alleged that Pranab Mukherjee’s inability to build a strong Hindu leadership and grievances of the voters that their two-time MP did not do much for them also made the Congress candidate’s chances bleak.
“There was a strong antiCongress wave in the constituency. People questioned what Pranab Mukherjee give them and also why is his son contesting from Jangipur. Distribution of cycles cannot win votes. We almost lost,” said Adhir.