Moktar Hossain Mondal
In North Bengal, Asaduddin Owaisi led All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) and in South Bengal the yet to announce political outfit of Pirzada Abbas Siddiqui- in the ensuing state assembly election of West Bengal, the ruling Trinamool Congress, in all probability, would bore the brunt of this double edged sword.
Till now, no formal discussion has taken place between Owasi and Abbas Siddiqui but sources say AIMIM could field candidates in number of seats in Murshidabad, Malda and Dinajpur, which have considerable Muslim population. On the other hand, the political outfit of Abbas Siddiqui would fight from the seats dominated by Muslims in the districts of South and North 24 Parganas and Howrah in the southern parts of the state. In this circumstance, there is going to be a huge landslide in the Muslim vote bank. The ruling party, by all means, is in a jittery and is under extreme pressure. For the last couple of years, AIMIM has been working tirelessly on ground in West Bengal.
The party has not yet announced its party functionaries in the state yet. But emboldened by its impressive results in neighbouring Bihar, it has roared in to paw into the minority vote bank. This has definitely made Trinamool Congress to frown. Adding to its discomfiture, Pirzada Abbas Siddiqui of Furfura Sharif has become politically active for the last one year. He has already announced to field 44 candidates in the upcoming polls. He has mainly raised the issue of discrimination against Muslims as his vote plank. Vote pundits are apprehensive about a sharp polarisation of votes because of this double sword of Owaisi and Abbas.
Abbas Siddiqui addressing a gathering.
The youth president of Central Muslim League Sabir S Gaffar said, Asad Saheb and Abbas Bhai may have to sit down together for discussion. If AIMIM put candidates everywhere it would be counterproductive. Abbas Bhai has a strong base in south Bengal. In the Northern side, AIMIM is very active. So they might eventually get into some sort of seat adjustment. On the other hand, Syed Jamirul Hasan, an activist of AIMIM in Kolkata said, such talks have not taken place. Owaisi Saheb will visit here shortly. We are ready to fight the election.
It should be noted that Abbas Siddiqui has not talked about anything negative about AIMIM. Instead, he has lauded Asaduddin Owaisi’s impressive role inside the parliament. So the grapevine is buzzing. Abbas has taken the stance of keeping the door open for discussion with Owaisi.
Due to AIMIM-Abbas combine, the landslide on Muslim vote bank will not only affect the Trinamool Congress votes but also overall Left Front-Congress votes. Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has criticised AIMIM, as did state Congress President Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury (although the latter has paid a visit to Abbas Siddiqui last evening). But while Saokat Molla, the ruling TMC MLA, organise meeting against Abbas the Left-Congress leaders have, by and large, kept silent. Instead, CPM leader Sujan Chakraborty or Congress leader Abdul Mannan et al have extended solidarity when Abbas was recently physically attacked.
But whether Owaisi or Abbas would consolidate Muslim votes and would try to get as many seats as they can to become a force to reckon with, time will tell. Political observers believe TMC would be affected the most and arithmetically BJP would benefit. Supporters of AIMIM and Abbas view that they have every right to highlight the discrimination in a democratic country and have the right to do politics. But many observers also doubt the impact of these duos. Can they attract a sizable chunk of Muslim votes? Or would their endevour be a false alarm like the efforts once done by Siddiqullah Chowdhury led PDSI? We have to wait for another several months to get the answer.