As West Bengal is gearing up for 2021 Assembly elections and sensing that Muslims are undeniably a deciding factor to turn the tables for any political party, the state BJP has revamped its ‘Minority Morcha’ wing to take on the ruling Trinamool Congress in all the 294 seats.
Speaking to News18.com, president of the BJP’s ‘Monitory Morcha’, Ali Hossain said, “Yes, we have revamped our ‘Monitory Morcha’ wing in all the districts. There is a BJP wave in Bengal and the minorities are looking for a change this time.”
He said, “Political weather in Bengal is in favour of the BJP and minorities have realized this change. In 1977 when the Left Front came to power, then there was an anti-Congress wave and the minorities voted for the Left. Similarly, in 2011, there was a pro-TMC wave and the minorities supported Mamata Banerjee. Now there is a strong BJP wave across the state and ‘Parivartan’ is inevitable in Bengal.”
On the context of possible hurdles while convincing the Muslims over contentious issues like National Register of Citizens (NRC) and Ram Temple at Ayodhya, he said, “Our senior party leader and Union Home Minister Amit Shahji has categorically said that there won’t be NRC as of now in India. I personally feel that the Centre should go for the National Population Register (NPR) because we should have a list of Indians and foreigners for our internal security. There is nothing wrong in demanding for NPR. As far Ayodhya is concerned, it was the judgment of the court and we all must respect that.”
He added, “We have started our minority campaign since August 28 in all the districts in Bengal. So far 16,000 Muslims have joined the BJP and I am sure more will join in the coming weeks.”
In Bengal, with more than 31 per cent vote share, Muslims are undeniably a deciding factor to turn the tables for any political party.They were the deciding factor during the Left rule till Trinamool Chief Mamata Banerjee came to power in 2011.
BJP knows it well that any significant division in the Muslim vote share – a deciding factor in nearly 90 assembly seats out of 294 in the state could jeopardise Mamata Banerjee’s mission 2021 Assembly polls.
In West Bengal, nearly 22 per cent Muslims live in Kolkata city while majority of them (nearly 67 per cent) lives in Murshidabad district. The second and third highest Muslim population lives in North Dinajpur (51 per cent) and Malda (52 per cent) respectively.
In North Dinajpur and South Dinajpur, the Muslim population is 49.92 per cent and 25 per cent respectively.
West Bengal accounts for the second highest Muslim population in India which is nearly 2.47 crore, who forms nearly 27.5 per cent of the state’s population.
In the 2016 assembly polls, TMC was ahead in nearly 90 minority-dominated assembly segments. In densely Muslim populated Muslim areas comprising of more than 40 percent of the electorate, the Trinamool Congress was ahead in nearly 60 out of 65 assembly constituencies.
In 2019, TMC got 43 percent votes (despite losing 12 seats) which is 5 percent more as compared to 2014 Lok Sabha. In 2014, TMC got 34 seats, while in 2019 it managed to secure only 22 seats. But despite losing 12 seats, TMC’s vote share has increased because they got the full support of the Muslims.
On the other hand, in 2016 assembly polls, the BJP’s vote share was 12 percent and in 2019 Lok Sabha it went up to 39 percent. There was an increase of 27 percent vote share mainly because of Hindus coalescing towards the BJP.
This shows how a minor swing in the Muslim vote share could devastate Mamata’s 2021 game plan.
Interestingly, far away in Hyderabad, Asaduddin Owaisi of All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) saw a huge political opportunity in Bengal and since 2011 slowly started working in the bordering areas of the state where the Muslim population is high.
After winning the Kishanganj seat in Bihar for the first time – Owaisi paid more attention towards Bengal. Though he is yet to launch AIMIM officially in the state, Owaisi has already engaged local youths to spread AIMIM’s ideology and party’s stand towards the Muslims mainly in Kolkata, North Dinajpore, Malda, Murshidabad, Jalpaiguri and Nadia districts.
Banking on the Muslim vote shares, AIMIM, which mainly has been a party of choice for minorities could play a spoilsport for Bengal's 'Didi' and a boon for BJP due to inevitable division in the Muslim vote share.
The All India Secretary of the BJP’s Minority Morcha, Arshad Alam, said, “No one thought that we would secure 18 seats in the Lok Sabha. Similarly, 2021 poll results will be a shock for the ruling TMC as we are certainly going to form the government in Bengal.”