The minority cause has united the fiercest of rivals in Bengal, the CPI(M) and the Trinamool Congress. Just before the panchayat polls, Trinamool MLA from Deganga (North 24 Parganas) Dr M Nuruzzaman and CPI(M) MLA and former land reforms minister Abdur Rezzak Mollah have joined hands to set up the Association for the Downtrodden and Muslims (ADAM), that would work as a pressure group for the development of the minorities.
The organisation, which was floated just a few weeks ago, is supposed to work for the cause of the minorities, OBCs and even tribals. It has already started work in districts such as Murshidabad, Malda, Burdwan, South and North 24-Parganas along with South and North Dinajpur, all having substantial minority population.
The coming together of the ruling party and CPI(M) MLAs is some sort of a coup d’etat in the prevailing political culture of West Bengal, as ruling party leaders campaigned for a total - political and even social - boycott of the CPI(M) leaders and activists since the change of guard in May 2011. “This is a new organisation and Nuruzzaman is a Muslim first and a Trinamool leader later. We are working together for the development and rights of the Muslims and the downtrodden,” said Abdur Rezzak Mollah, who is the president of ADAM. “Muslims are deprived of their rights and social justice. We will work for the all-round development like health, education, women’s empowerment,” said Mollah.
Mollah, an undefeated MLA since 1977, is a controversial CPI(M) leader who even criticised Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee after the end of the Left’s 34-year rule. He has rarely been defensive about sporting his religious identity.
“Our organisation cuts across political lines. For the sake of Muslims, I am even ready to work with Rezzak Sahib who is respected in our community,” Nuruzzaman told HT. The Trinamool MLA is the secretary of ADAM.
This bonhomie may not go down well with Trinamool leaders as chief minister Mamata Banerjee herself does not share the dais with CPI(M) leaders and disallowed her ministers and leaders to do so even before she came to power. In April 2012, Jyotipriyo Mullick, state food minister, called for a social boycott of CPI(M) workers.
“Do not sit with them or talk to them. Stay away from marriage ceremonies where CPI(M) members are present. Do not accept invitations, or even have tea with them,” the minister urged his party workers in North 24-Parganas last year.
Later, he defended his statement. Also, Tamluk MP Suvendu Adhikari compared CPI(M) leaders to venomous snakes and advised the public to “mete out treatment usually reserved for such snakes.”
Even Mamata has never met CPI(M) leaders. Barring the historic meeting in Raj Bhavan in September 2008 to solve the Singur impasse, she has never shared the stage with CPI(M) leaders.