If you want to remove BJP...: Mamata Banerjee rushes to consolidate Muslim votes
According to surveys done by the TMC and the BJP, swing in Muslim votes can influence poll-results in as many as 120 assembly seats in Bengal.
Trinamool Congress chief and West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee is trying to consolidate minority votes in three of the state’s Muslim dominated districts even before a proposed alliance between the Congress, the Left and the Indian Secular Front (ISF) or the All India Majlis-e-Ittehad-ul-Muslimeen (AIMIM) could nibble into the vote bank.
“If you cast your vote elsewhere, it is bound to go to BJP. Your vote should not go to the Congress, the BJP or the CPI. Your only symbol is TMC. Congress, in a bid to win a seat, will make tall statements. But they won’t be able to fight the BJP. CPIM is also BJP’s bosom friend and won’t be able to fight it. The TMC will fight the BJP and form the government in West Bengal,” Banerjee said at a public rally in Murshidabad.
The TMC supremo embarked upon a two-day tour of the bordering districts of Malda, Murshidabad and Uttar Dinajpur where Muslims are in majority.
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“I believe, Murshidabad and Malda will play big roles in forming the government in West Bengal. We want all seats from here. If you want to remove the BJP, cast every single vote in favour of the TMC,” she added.
Bengal’s Muslim population stood at 27.01 per cent during the 2011 census and is projected to have increased to around 30 per cent now. Muslims comprise 66.2 per cent of the population in Murshidabad, 51.2 per cent in Malda and 49.92 per cent in North Dinajpur.
“Bengali Muslims comprise 90 per cent of the Muslim population in the state and had been the traditional vote bank of the Congress. But the minority vote has shifted and Congress is far behind in Muslim-dominated assembly segments in all the three districts and being totally uprooted from Uttar Dinajpur,” said a senior Congress leader.
According to the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, the TMC is ahead in 16 of the 22 assembly seats in Murshidabad and the BJP was leading in one. The Congress was ahead in five seats. In Malda, the BJP was ahead in six seats, Congress in four and TMC in two seats. In Uttar Dinajpur, the TMC and the BJP were in a neck-to-neck fight with the TMC leading in five out of the nine assembly seats.
The West Bengal Congress had recently approached the high command seeking permission to form a grand alliance with the Left and the ISF, a party floated by Abbas Siddiqui - an influential Muslim cleric - to win back the lost ground. The Hyderabad-based AIMIM is also trying to forge an alliance with the ISF. The efforts to forge an alliance between the Congress, the Left and the ISF has, however, run into rough waters after the Congress and the Left said that there can't be any alliance if the ISF joins hands with the AIMIM.
Most of the new branches of the AIMIM are located in Murshidabad, Malda and North Dinajpur, while Siddiqui’s followers are spread across southern Bengal.
“They may threaten you and try to scare you. But don’t get frightened. Have you seen me getting frightened? I will live like a Royal Bengal Tiger till I die. They said they will implement NRC and NPR. Some states didn’t say a word but I have passed a resolution in the assembly against it. I will not let them implement NRC and NPR,” Banerjee added.
Massive violence broke in Murshidabad in January 2020 which left at least two people dead and several injured. Trains and buses were burnt.
Meanwhile, Humayun Kabir, the former police commissioner of Chandannagar, joined the TMC on Tuesday. He had earlier served as the superintendent of police (SP) of Murshidabad district. His wife Anindita Kabir had joined the TMC in November last year.