With the announcement of his decision to contest in the upcoming West Bengal Assembly Elections, Asaduddin Owaisi, leader of the All India Majlis-e-Ittehad-ul-Muslimeen (AIMIM), has certainly become the cause of TMC Supremo Mamata Banerjee’s worst nightmare.
Presenting a daunting challenge to Mamata’s penchant getting electoral gains through minority appeasement, it is perceived that Owaisi will win a substantial Muslim vote in the state. Further putting a nail in TMC’s coffin of fear, Owaisi on Sunday met a young leader, Abasuddin Siddiqui, in a two-hour-long meeting. This is significant because the leader has been a critic of the Mamata Government and has been outspoken about her failed policies.
Siddiqui, in recent months, has accused the TMC of not doing enough for the minority community and using it as a vote bank instead. He also happens to be the young scion of the Siddiqui family, who is the custodian of the famous Furfura Sharif Shrine, one of the most popular places of pilgrimage in Bengal. Thus, he has a substantial Muslim influence in the state and him allying with Owaisi can’t be good news for Mamata.
Owaisi stated after the meeting, “The AIMIM will stand behind Abbas Siddiqui. We will work with him and strengthen his cause. I have decided to leave all decisions to Siddiqui. I am confident that our performance will be comparable to what we achieved in Bihar. Only the minority vote is not our target. We want to fight for tribal people and other backward classes as well. If anyone can stop the BJP, it is Siddiqui.”
West Bengal’s Muslim population is projected to be 30% now, making the sect a very powerful minority, having a deep influence on the election outcome. Owaisi’s entry into the fray, contesting the vote of the very same people that Mamata has relied on, since decades, is certainly going to be tumultuous for TMC. Due to this development, the perturbed TMC leaders are making all sorts of accusations, even going as far as to claim that Owaisi is on the BJP’s side.
Urban Development Minister of West Bengal, Firhad Hakim said, “Neither Siddiqui nor AIMIM can rule Bengal. They can only help the BJP. We saw it happen in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar.”
Seeing right through this, BJP State President Dilip Ghosh said, “Owaisi can go to any party or contest polls anywhere. The BJP is not concerned. The TMC is worried because it treats the Muslim vote bank as its property. If the TMC really worked for the welfare of Muslims why should it be worried?”
Calling on TMC’s paranoia, Owaisi also reiterated the fact that his party has nothing to do with BJP and further underlined Mamata Banerjee’s diminishing influence in Bengal. Owaisi said, “AIMIM did not contest the Lok Sabha polls and yet the BJP won 18 seats. How did that happen? Mamata Banerjee cannot even manage her own party. Her MLAs and MPs are joining the BJP every day. Our aim is to stop the BJP.”
BJP’s rising popularity amongst the Hindu voters is hidden from none. To counter this, Mamata had counted on her loyal Muslim voters. But with these recent developments, it seems that the TMC Supremo does not even have their support. Earlier, it was perceived that the Owaisi factor was just a vote cutter for the TMC, but now with his association with Abasuddin Siddiqui, the AIMIM is rising to be a major challenge for the TMC to face in the upcoming elections. This development will ultimately benefit the BJP, which will no doubt, make use of the divided minority votes to emerge as the single largest party, freeing West Bengal from Mamata’s clutches.