May 19, 2021

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What is the role of ‘Muslim vote’ in West Bengal elections?

Abbas Siddiqui with Left and Congress leaders at a brigade rally
Abbas Siddiqui with Left and Congress leaders at brigade rally Photo: Bhaskar Mukherjee
Peerzada Abbas Siddiqui has made a fuss over the Muslim vote count in the West Bengal Assembly elections. The Indian Secular Front (ISF) is a group formed by a young Peerzada of Furfura Sharif with a hat on his head and a beard on his face. Milon Mandi, the vice-president of the party, is a young Santal. Trinamool leader Mamata Banerjee, the BJP and even the far-left, the forerunner of the ‘No Vote to BJP’ movement, have come out against the ISF in almost the same tone. According to them, this is a new ploy to attract Muslim votes. Since the Left Front and the Congress formed a strong alliance called the United Front with the ISF, the campaign against them has also intensified.

Even after seven decades of parliamentary system in the country, these vote dealers did not understand that there is no such thing as a ‘Muslim vote’. Rather, what is there is a minority vote. They want to vote for a party that will ensure their safety and security. Muslim voters in West Bengal are now seriously considering whether to vote for the Trinamool Congress again to stop the BJP. That was made clear in the Nandigram battle between Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and Shuvendu Adhikari (former Trinamool leader and now BJP candidate). Both of them had to be killed in temples to prove how pure Hindus they are. If the Hindu electorate is polarized, the Muslims (more than 23 per cent of the Muslim vote in Nandigram) will not be left out. At that time, Meenakshi Mukherjee, a young leader of the United Front CPM candidate, literally went door-to-door to explain to the people, regardless of Hindu-Muslim, the danger of playing with the religion of Trinamool and BJP. The people of Nandigram have filled his meeting irrespective of religion.

The public gathering at the meetings of the united front in this election is eye-catching. How much of his credit goes to Peerzada Abbas Siddiqui and how much to the newly emerging young leaders of the CPM can certainly be discussed. However, seeing the crowd at Abbas Siddiqui’s meeting, it is understood that he has a power to gather the crowd.

But why is this newcomer so strong? His emphasis is the same — the followers of Furfura Sharif scattered all over the state. Pir Abu Bakr Siddiqui (1845-1939) or ‘Dada Pir Sahib’ of Furfura Sharif was a well-known Islamic scholar and religious leader. He had millions of followers all over Bengal and Assam. His descendants are still using that popularity of Dada Pir. Abbas Siddiqui is one of them. There is no less dispute among the relatives of these Peerzadas over inheritance and power. Abbas Siddiqui’s biggest opponent is his cousin Taha Siddiqui. For now, he is in favor of Mamata Banerjee. Because, Abbas is against the ruling party. The equation of their family politics is much like this.

But although the disciples of Dada Pir have spiritual allegiance to Furfura, there is no certainty as to whether the Pirzadas will be able to extract political allegiance from them. Furfura fans or disciples have not had to read in front of any such test so far.

When discussing the Muslim vote in West Bengal, it should be kept in mind that the Muslims of this state have never trusted in identity-based politics. Instead, Hindus have demonstrated their communal character by winning 16 BJP seats in the Lok Sabha polls. But no Muslim party has got solid land in this state. In 1989, a party called the Provincial Muslim League won 3 out of 40 seats and supported the United Front government from outside. But over the next five years, they became so weak that they could not contest more than two seats in the 1971 elections. Even Siddiqullah, the president of the Jamiat-e-Ulama-e-Hind, has had to give up the confidence of the Muslim party and cast his vote by joining Mamata Banerjee’s party. The Muslims of this state have always relied on mainstream politics নয় not as a vote bank, but with the dynamics and trends of state and national politics. What the Congress got before 196, then the Left Front or the Trinamool Congress got Muslim votes since 2011 is always proportional to the total votes.

The Muslims of this state have always relied on mainstream politics নয় not as a vote bank, but with the dynamics and trends of state and national politics. The Congress vote before 197, the Left Front or the Trinamool Congress since 2011 has always been proportional to the total vote.
The number of seats won by the BJP in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections and the number of seats it came in second place shows that the BJP is already leading in 121 assembly seats. And the BJP can form a government in West Bengal only if it wins 30 seats. But the calculation is not so simple.
This time the question has arisen in the minds of the Muslims of the state, can ‘Didi’ save West Bengal from the occupation of BJP? Because, in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, the number of seats won by the BJP and the number of seats it was in the second place, it is seen that the BJP is already ahead in 121 assembly seats. And the BJP can form a government in West Bengal only if it wins 30 seats. But the calculation is not so simple. Because, petrol and diesel are already at the center for the welfare of Narendra Modi’s government

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