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BJP names first Muslim candidate in Bengal; she will take on Pranab’s son

Mafuja Khatun, Bharatiya Janata Party’s first Muslim candidate in West Bengal, will take on Congress candidate Abhijit Mukherjee, the son of former President Pranab Mukherjee. Abhijit, 59, is the incumbent from Jangipur constituency in Murshidabad district.

india Updated: Mar 23, 2019 23:25 IST
Snigdhendu Bhattacharya
Snigdhendu Bhattacharya
Hindustan Times, Kolkata
Mafuja Khatun,BJP,Bharatiya Janata Party
Union Minister and BJP leader JP Nadda(PTI file photo)

Mafuja Khatun, Bharatiya Janata Party’s first Muslim candidate in West Bengal, will take on Congress candidate Abhijit Mukherjee, the son of former President Pranab Mukherjee. Abhijit, 59, is the incumbent from Jangipur constituency in Murshidabad district.

Khatun, whose candidature was announced on Saturday, said that she would focus her campaign on the Narendra Modi government’s initiative to liberate Muslim women from the evil of instant triple talaq.

“We will conduct a survey to find out an estimated number of triple talaq victims within my constituency. We will also highlight how the Modi government ensured Muslim women can travel for Hajj unattended by males,” said Khatun.

“I shall not comment on anything that has a communal slant,” said Mukherjee, who, however, admitted that the instant triple talaq has influenced a section of educated Muslim women.

“The focus of my campaign will be the philosophy of the Congress and its development politics and what I have done for the area over the past five years,” he added.

BJP has so far announced candidates for 29 of the state’s 42 seats.

Khatun, 47, is a two-time former Communist Party of India (Marxist) MLA from neighbouring Dakshin Dinajpur district.

She joined the BJP in 2017 after losing the 2016 assembly elections to Trinamool Congress (TMC).

“I shall tell the people that Congress MPs are incapable of carrying out development projects overcoming the obstacles created by TMC-influenced district administration. We, the soldiers of Narendra Modi, can do that,” Khatun remarked.

The campaign for Mukherjee and the CPI(M) candidate has already started in the constituency. TMC has fielded a local businessman.

In 2014 Lok Sabha elections, Mukherjee won by a thin margin of 8,000 votes over the nearest rival, CPI (M).

This time, Mukherjee faces a tough job since Bengal’s ruling Trinamool Congress has, over the past five years, eaten into the strongholds of both the Congress and the CPI(M). BJP, too, has increased influence.

Jangipur is one of the three Lok Sabha seats in Murshidabad district, where Muslims comprise about 67% of the population, according to the census of 2011.

First Published: Mar 23, 2019 23:24 IST