Whereas the earlier Bengal elections have seen a shift of Muslim votes from one celebration or coalition to a different, the upcoming election in Bengal is exclusive within the sense that it appears prime for an unprecedented rush for Muslim votes.
Muslims comprise round 30 per cent of voters in West Bengal, the place meeting election is anticipated in April-Could. Muslim voters are thought of to be the deciding consider a Bengal election.
In 2011, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s Trinamool Congress surprised the CPM-led Left Entrance in that yr’s Bengal election, which came about towards the backdrop of the Sachar Fee report that stated Muslims have been in a worse situation within the state.
At current, other than the ruling Trinamool Congress, the Congress and likewise the AIMIM of Hyderabad MP Asaduddin Owaisi, one other outfit the Indian Secular Entrance (ISF) has entered the fray in Bengal.
Whereas the earlier Bengal elections have seen a shift of Muslim votes from one celebration or coalition to a different, the upcoming election in Bengal is exclusive within the sense that it appears prime for an unprecedented rush for Muslim votes. Congress leaders in Bengal have repeatedly complained to the central management concerning the lack of assist from Muslim voters.
Congress eyes piggybacking Abbas Siddiqui
The Indian Secular Entrance is backed by Islamic cleric Pirzada Abbas Siddiqui, an influential Muslim chief in Bengal. Siddiqui had beforehand supported Mamata Banerjee in 2011 and 2016 when she received the Bengal elections.
The Bengal Congress is eyeing an alliance with Siddiqui, who has appeared constructive to the Congress’s proposal. If a tie up occurs, the Congress might be a severe contender for Muslim votes within the West Bengal Meeting election.
Chief of Opposition in Bengal Meeting Abdul Mannan lately wrote to Congress president Sonia Gandhi, strongly advocating for an alliance with Siddiqui’s ISF. Mannan wrote, “… the Congress celebration in West Bengal stood within the state for the assist of Minority votes for a few years.”
Mannan stated, “The president of the ISF is a Hindu however the particular person behind the entrance is a Muslim spiritual chief named Pirzada Abbas Siddiqui, who belongs to the eminent spiritual household of Furfura Sharif, Hooghly. He’s not solely fashionable for his oratory ability amongst Muslims however amongst Dalits and Tribals additionally.”
Mannan defined to Sonia Gandhi the political logic behind his proposal: “Out of 30 per cent Muslim inhabitants in Bengal, the share of Bengali talking Muslim is 90 per cent, which had been the standard vote financial institution of Congress Occasion. We have now failed to carry that assist for varied causes. Introduction of a brand new political entity within the title of Indian Secular Entrance (ISF) is a menace for all secular events.”
The Owaisi angle
After success within the Bihar Meeting election, Asaduddin Owaisi has grow to be a big consider Bengal as effectively. Owaisi, in line with experiences, is in contact with Siddiqui. They talked about forming an alliance in January.The nationwide political stance of Owaisi would make it troublesome for him to align with the Congress. (File picture: PTI)
Owaisi has been working to create a pan-India celebration that speaks for Muslims, after which increase the political base amongst Dalits. He speaks Urdu in his public conferences and makes an attempt to unite Muslim voters politically.
It is a downside for Mamata Banerjee, who adopted the identical Urdu technique as she weaned Muslim voters away from the CPM-led Left Entrance.
Nonetheless, the Congress-Siddiqui proposal places Owaisi in a dilemma. Owaisi, in January, had stated his celebration would observe the choice that Siddiqui takes as regards to an alliance for Bengal election.
However the nationwide political stance of Owaisi would make it troublesome for him to align with the Congress, which has already struck a take care of the Left.
If Owaisi contests Bengal election alone, his AIMIM could be in direct conflict with Mamata Banerjee’s TMC. On this state of affairs, the BJP hopes for a counter-polarisation.
A check for Mamata Banerjee
There’s a little historical past to Mamata Banerjee’s pro-Muslim tilt in politics. Again when Mamata Banerjee floated her separate outfit, the BJP-led NDA was rising to energy below Atal Bihari Vajpayee. She joined the NDA. However her affiliation with the BJP distanced her from Muslim vote financial institution in Bengal.As soon as in energy, Mamata Banerjee rolled out a number of Muslim-specific insurance policies. (File picture: PTI)
Mamata Banerjee did a political course correction after 2004, when the Vajpayee authorities was voted out. Mamata Banerjee started wooing Muslims in a manner that Bengal had not seen lately. Apart from Nandigram and Singur, Mamata Banerjee was helped by the findings of the Sachar Fee, arrange by the Manmohan Singh authorities to review the state of Muslims within the nation.
The Sachar Fee stated Muslims have been extra backward, and in a worse situation within the Left-ruled Bengal. The Muslims in Bengal had been conventional voters for the Left. The Sachar Fee report labored towards the Left Entrance in Bengal election 2011.
As soon as in energy, Mamata Banerjee rolled out a number of Muslim-specific insurance policies. The Mamata authorities
- gave an allowance or stipend to imams and muezzins,
- offered free bicycles to women learning in madrasas,
- prolonged scholarships to Muslim college students of Class I to X,
- supplied reservation to Muslim OBCs,
- banned the telecast of a drama sequence by controversial writer Taslima Nasrin on the demand of conservative Muslim clerics,
- and made Urdu the second official language in districts the place the Urdu-speaking inhabitants was greater than 10 per cent.
The Mamata authorities gave a grant of Rs 300 crore to the Aaliah College, began throughout Left Entrance’s rule, and constructed particular hostels for Muslim women in districts.
Moreover, Mamata Banerjee elevated the variety of tickets given to Muslims in Bengal Meeting elections, coated her head and attended prayers, combined Arabic phrases with Bangla in public conferences, roped in influential urbane Urdu-speaking Muslims and likewise gave extra weightage to Urdu-speaking Muslims in her cupboard in comparison with the earlier Left Entrance authorities.
Nonetheless, Mamata Banerjee faces a troublesome problem in preserving her Muslim vote financial institution intact within the 2021 Bengal election because the Congress tries to revive its assist base amongst Muslims and Owaisi is seeking to replicate his Bihar success in Bengal. There’s a part of Muslims that believes Mamata Banerjee has unwittingly helped the rise of the BJP in Bengal.
Ought to BJP be completely satisfied?
Regardless of its outreach to Muslims, the BJP has negligible assist base amongst Muslims primarily on account of its emphasis on Hindutva. The BJP often advantages from a division of Muslim votes in elections. A scramble for Muslim votes in Bengal, backed by its efficiency within the final Lok Sabha election, augurs effectively for the BJP within the upcoming meeting election.
To high it up, the BJP leaders appear to be serving to polarisation of voters in Bengal each to consolidate Hindutva vote and faucet counter-polarised vote on account of appeasement politics of the TMC, and the Congress, and religion-based attraction of Owaisi’s politics.
“The TMC is considering they are going to handle this time with 30 per cent (Muslim vote share). However I want to inform them that we now have 70 per cent (Hindu votes). I want to urge you right now from this ‘manch’, keep united and provides a befitting reply to oust the ruling authorities,” Suvendu Adhikari lately stated at a public rally.
To strengthen the TMC’s declare in South Bengal — a number of districts dominated by Muslim voters — Mamata Banerjee has determined to shift to Nandigram constituency in East Midnapore district from Bhabanipur in Kolkata and counter Suvendu Adhikari’s change from the TMC to the BJP.
Adhikari stated, “I take this duty right now to make sure BJP’s win from Nandigram. They [TMC] are counting on 62,000 votes however I’ve the assist of two.13 lakh individuals, who chant ‘Jai Shri Ram’.”
Responding to potential Congress-Left-Siddiqui-Owaisi alignment, BJP’s Amit Malviya stated, “The true nature of “secular” politics is nothing however Muslim appeasement and right here Abdul Mannan cannot even conceal his desperation to consolidate their Muslim vote financial institution. Studying the letter it appears as if Hindus do not matter.”
In sync, the BJP MLAs on Friday walked out of West Bengal Meeting chanting “Jai Shri Ram” as they opposed the Mamata authorities’s choice to not invite Bengal Governor Jagdeep Dhankar to the Meeting on the primary day of the Funds Session.
Muslims in Bengal
Bengal has 294 meeting constituencies out of which 46 have a Muslim focus of over 50 per cent. There are 16 seats the place Muslims comprise 40-50 per cent of inhabitants, 33 seats with 30-40 per cent Muslims and there are one other 50 seats the place Muslims are 20-30 per cent as voters. This makes Muslims a key consider practically half the constituencies in Bengal.
There are over 100 constituencies in Bengal the place Muslim voters have deciding affect in elections. Districts of Malda, Murshidabad, North Dinajpur, South 24 Parganas, North 24 Parganas, Nadia and Birbhum are notably within the focus of political events for Muslim votes and anticipated counter-polarised votes.
Three districts specifically — Malda, Murshidabad and North Dinajpur — have larger Muslim inhabitants than that of the Hindus. These Muslim-dominated districts are more likely to see intense electioneering by the TMC, the Congress and Owaisi’s AIMIM. The BJP appears extra for counter-polarisation.
In 2019 Lok Sabha polls, the BJP trailed the TMC by three per cent votes. Some analysts stated Mamata Banerjee’s TMC received extra seats than the BJP in 2019 because it might garner 65 per cent of Muslim votes. Any important division of Muslim votes on account of jostling among the many Congress-Left mahajot (grand alliance), the TMC and Owaisi-Siddiqui attraction, might change the tide in Bengal.