As the all-important West Bengal assembly elections draw nearer, political temperatures in the state ruled by Mamata Banerjee are fast rising. While the animosity between the BJP and TMC is already out in the open, with both parties not shying away from taking daily digs at each other, Asaduddin Owaisi’s AIMIM is the latest entrant to engage in a war of words with the ruling party of Bengal. And why shouldn’t it? The West Bengal Police, working at the behest of the TMC-run Home Department, had denied permission to the AIMIM for kicking off its campaign in the state with a rally in Kolkata.
The AIMIM’s first rally in the Muslim-dominated Metiabruz area of Kolkata was all set to witness firebrand party chief Owaisi kickstarting his campaign in West Bengal. The rally was to be held on Thursday, February 25, for which the AIMIM had applied for permissions ten days ago. Yet, at the end moment, West Bengal police denied permission to Owaisi to hold the event. This comes days after the police also tried to bar the BJP from holding its ‘Parivartan Yatra’.
AIMIM state secretary Zameerul Hasan was quoted as saying, “We had applied 10 days back for permission. But today we were informed by the police that they will not permit us to hold the rally. We can’t be cowed down by such tactics of the ruling TMC. We will discuss and soon announce a fresh date for a programme.”
AIMIM, led by Owaisi, had already come up with posters for the planned programme. The Kolkata police declined to comment on the matter, reported PTI. The TMC, however, denied any involvement in the cancellation of the rally. “We have no role in permitting a rally organised by the AIMIM which is nothing but a proxy of the BJP in Bengal,” TMC MP Sougata Roy said.
For the TMC, whose supremo Mamata Banerjee herself controls the state’s Home department, it is a bit rich to claim that they had nothing to do with the rejection of permission to Owaisi to hold a rally in Kolkata. It must be remembered that Owaisi’s AIMIM poses a serious challenge for the TMC, as the Hyderabad-based party, which has of late been making a pan-India impression, makes no secret of the fact that it is contesting the elections to win over Muslim voters of the state.
By cutting Muslim votes which would have otherwise gone to Mamata Banerjee’s party, Owaisi is strengthening BJP’s chances in Bengal big time. It, therefore, comes as no surprise that the AIMIM is being targeted by the TMC and its proxies in the state machinery.