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Peeved cleric joins arms with MIM, spells bother for Mamata Banerjee

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Kolkata: In a improvement that might spell bother for the Trinamool Congress, the All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen mentioned the occasion would contest the West Bengal elections with Abbas Siddiqui, a spiritual chief from the favored Muslim pilgrimage website of Furfura Sharif.

AIMIM chief Asaduddin Owaisi made the announcement after visiting the pirzada from Furfura Sharif, in his first journey to the state following his announcement that the occasion would contest the Bengal meeting elections this yr.

Muslims in Bengal largely comply with both of two spiritual establishments — the Jamiat Ulema-e-Hind that follows the Deoband faculty of thought and Furfura Sharif. Furfura Sharif holds sway in South Bengal, in districts resembling Hooghly, Howrah and South 24 Parganas, significantly in areas the place the BJP is barely weaker and constructing its organisation. Siddiqui for the previous few months has been holding anti-TMC congregations, asking Muslims to vote out the occasion for not doing sufficient for the group.

“Our party president will then decide the final course of action, but it is clear that if we contest together, we will give a fight in at least 150 seats,” AIMIM state in-charge Syed Zameerul Hasan informed ET on the tip-up with Siddiqui. The occasion continues to be constructing its organisation in all districts and guaranteeing there are 25 of its members in each sales space, he mentioned. There are 78,000 cubicles within the state.

Owaisi’s go to to Hooghly was sudden and stored beneath wraps to keep away from consideration of the TMC, the federal government of which had imprisoned many AIMIM members for participating in protests towards the Citizenship Amendment Act, a celebration member mentioned.

While the Owaisi-led occasion has not began its public marketing campaign, it has been quietly contacting Muslims within the state for a yr, finishing up programmes in numerous districts. According to Hassan, whereas Sidiqui’s affect will work in round 4 districts, the AIMIM already has its staff in place in Murshidabad, Malda, Uttar and Dakshin Dinajpur and Cooch Behar.

Owaisi additionally met kin of Siddiqui resembling Pirzada Naushad Siddiqui, Prizada Baijid Amin and Sabbir Gaffar. Political observers identified that whereas Furfura Sharif had a historical past of influencing election outcomes, none of its spiritual leaders had joined electoral politics until now, and a few of Sidiqqui’s circle of relatives members have been against his aspirations. Apart from justice for Muslims, Siddiqui has been asking for a liquor ban, death sentence for rapists and releasing of Muslim properties from authorities management.

Furfura Sharif leaders who had been near the Communist Party of India (Marxist) after independence had moved away from the occasion citing the Sachar committee reviews of 2006, which revealed the state of Muslims was the worst in West Bengal. In 2011, the Sharif leaders had swayed the group’s help for the TMC. Till just lately, they have been additionally in talks with chief minister Mamata Banerjee to present no less than 50 seats to them, a situation that was not accepted by the TMC. The AIMIM, ET has learnt, was in talks with the CPM, however didn’t wish to enter any alliance that had the Congress occasion in it.

Political observers mentioned the transfer could have an adversarial impression on Trinamool Congress’ minority vote financial institution. But the occasion has refuted such speculations.

TMC Canning MLA Soukat Mollah, among the many occasion’s most outstanding Muslim faces who has up to now heckled and publicly spoken towards Siddiqui, mentioned the group was firmly behind Banerjee. “Everyone is aware that what the Hyderabad party is doing will help the BJP. Muslims in Bengal are grateful to the TMC for ensuring their safety from riots, from the BJP,” he mentioned, including that the crowds in Siddiqui’s rallies got here solely as a result of they have been “religious rallies”.

“Even those who attend them will vote for the TMC. They are forced to depend on each other because most of MIM joined the TMC recently,” Mollah mentioned.

Political analyst Bishwanath Chakraborty mentioned as id politics grew to become extra obvious within the state with the BJP’s high-decibel marketing campaign on Hindu points, it was very a lot probably that some Muslims would possibly wish to vote on spiritual strains, and that Bengali-speaking Siddiqui would additionally counter the criticism of the MIM being an outsider, Urdu-speaking occasion. “Recent issues such as the CAA and NRC made these fault lines very clear,” he mentioned.

This would imply a headache for the TMC. “Even a dip of 5% in the community’s support would land the party in trouble,” he said. “Till now, the CM had to worry only about the Hindu consolidation because of the BJP, but now she also has to address a possible split in her own vote bank.”


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