Non-BJP events in West Bengal on edge over upcoming high-stake Meeting election

Ravi S Singh

Tribune News Service

New Delhi, November 13

The non-BJP parties in West Bengal, including the Left Front (LF) and the TMC, are in suspense at the possible damage the AIMIM would cause to them in West Bengal in the coming high-stake Assembly election, due about mid-next year.

AIMIM head Asaduddin Owaisi has declared that the intention of his party make is the maiden foray in an electoral contest in the state after its good performance in the just concluded Bihar election.

The concerns of the TMC and the LF regarding the AIMIM is on the account of its reported growing popularity among the Muslim voters in the country.

The Hyderabad-based AIMIM beat all pre-poll calculations to win five seats in Bihar in Seemanchal belt, which is demographically preponderated by the Muslim community.

Besides, it damaged the prospects of the RJD-led Mahagathbandhan in the area by undercutting their Muslim vote-bank, which helped BJP in the close contest.

Bengal has about 25 to 27 per cent of Muslim voters spread across the state which has a total of 294 assembly seats.

On a rough estimate, the community is the determining factor in at least 50 seats.

Although the TMC, the LF and the Congress disparage the AIMIM as “B” team of the BJP, they will be factoring its influence in its poll strategy calculus regarding the elections.

Both the TMC, and the LF, which has announced to have an electoral alliance with the Congress, jockey for Muslim support in Bengal.

The reason is not far to seek. The BJP has been successful to a large extent in polarising the voters in the state on communal lines.

In a state where the BJP was a non-entity till about four years ago, won 18 out of the 42 Lok Sabha seats in the 2019 Parliamentary election, giving dominant TMC run for its money. It emerged as the principal challenger to TMC, relegating both the LF and Congress to the margins in the process.

In the last two assembly elections, the TMC received support from the community which helped it to attain power in the state.

The apparent consternation in the non-BJP spectrum is with a firm view that any possible garboil in the Muslim community in the state, or split in their votes due to AIMIM’s entry, could boost the prospects of a resurgent BJP, especially in the wake of its buoyancy after Bihar election results.

According to popular estimate, the AIMIM was instrumental in the defeat of the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) of Sharad Pawar at a good number of seats in Maharashtra in the last assembly election in the state.

“Owaisi is a prop of the BJP and the people of Bengal have understood his politics. The AIMIM has the capacity to undercut votes of TMC, Left and the Congress,” a national Left leader said.

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