Excise war in an area of dissidence | kolkata | Hindustan Times
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Excise war in an area of dissidence

Poll equations for Metiabruz, the Muslim-dominated constituency in South 24-Parganas, are as complicated as in Kolkata Port. Sumanta Ray Chaudhuri reports.

kolkata Updated: Apr 25, 2011 16:10 IST
Sumanta Ray Chaudhuri

Poll equations for Metiabruz, the Muslim-dominated constituency in South 24-Parganas, are as complicated as in Kolkata Port.

The two prime contestants of Metiabruz, Badruddoja Mollah of CPI(M) and Mumtaz Begum of Trinamool Congress, share the same concern - Abdul Khalek Mollah, a dissident Congress MLA, who is contesting this time as an Independent candidate from the constituency.

An interesting aspect that unifies the three candidates this time is the same issue that they are harping on, which is the recent Union Budget announcement of the 10% excise on branded garments.

The majority of the Muslim populations in Metiabruz, which contribute for over 70% of the constituency voters, are involved in tailoring profession and hence this decision of excise imposition has naturally irked them.

Badruddoja is taking up this issue in a major way in launching its attacks against Trinamool. "This is question of livelihood for the majority of the minority population in Metibruz. The decision is of a Congress minister, on which its ally Trinamool has been completely silent. Trinamool will fill its pinch in the coming elections," he said.

Mumtaz Begum is quite aware that this excise issue can well be an embarrassing factor for her party, especially in view of the fact that her party might have bear the burden of the decision taken by the Union finance minister, Pranab Mukherjee. Her only contention is a telephonic conversation between Mukherjee and Trinamool supremo, Mamata Banerjee, where Mukherjee has arguably assured her of re-thinking over the issue.

"Didi has clearly said that the Union finance minister has assured her on rolling back the decision in the next session of Parliament," she said.

"What is the proof that there had been discussion between Mukherjee and Mamata on this issue? To my opinion, this is nothing but a political gimmick," Badruddoja said.

Khalek Mollah is also harping on this issue in his own way. According to him, he assured Mukherjee of withdrawing his nomination, if the excise was rolled back. "But since it was not done, I decided to contest independently. As a Congress MLA, I had been with my people and I will continue to do so as independent MLA also," he said.

Mumtaz Begum, being quite aware that Khalek Mollah can well play spoilsport for her prospects, is projecting him as CPI(M) stooge. "He knows very well that he will not win as an independent candidate. The only thing he can do is create a dent in opposition vote for the benefit of CPI(M). But he will not be successful in this mission," she said.