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How Much Should Mamata Banerjee Worry about Owaisi's Mega Plans for AIMIM's Launch in Bengal?

File photos of IAMIM chief Asaduddin Owasi and Trinamool Congress supremo Mamata Banerjee.

File photos of IAMIM chief Asaduddin Owasi and Trinamool Congress supremo Mamata Banerjee.

AIMIM spokesperson Asim Waqar said a mega rally would soon be organised at the Brigade Parade ground in Kolkata where Owaisi will deliver his speech and officially announce the launch of the AIMIM in Bengal.

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Sujit Nath

Kolkata: The chief of All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) and Hyderabad MP Asaduddin Owaisi is planning to hold a mega rally at Kolkata’s iconic Brigade Parade ground in December.

With nearly 31% Muslim vote-share in Bengal, Trinamool Congress supremo Mamata Banerjee has enough reasons to worry and feel agitated about the proposed rally. Minority voters have been a deciding factor for Banerjee’s rise to power in 2011 as well as the Left Front’s 34 years of rule in the state before the former took over.

AIMIM spokesperson and in-charge of Bengal Asim Waqar said, “We will soon organise a mega rally at the Brigade Parade ground in Kolkata this year where Owaisi will deliver a speech and officially announce the launch of the AIMIM in Bengal. The date is yet to be finalised as Owaisi is in Jharkhand for political meetings.”

Waqar said, “I have been working to strengthen our party in Bengal from February 24, 2017. At that time, we had a small meeting at Zakaria Street and the response was good. Since then, we have organised more than 25 meetings in Bengal and the last one was held on September 24 at Rani Rashmoni Road. We feel Muslims are deprived of their basic rights here and therefore, we have to work for them.”

Regarding their political strategy in the state, Waqar said, “We are not against the TMC, but the BJP. It is up to Mamatadidi to consider us as her friend or enemy. We are ready to contest the upcoming Assembly elections in 2021 in any condition. If she accepts us as friend, then we will contest jointly, if not, we are ready to go alone.”

He said, “We have covered 15 of the 23 districts in Bengal. In each booth (in these 15 districts), we have at least five AIMIM workers. We are working hard in the rest of the districts and hopefully, we would be able to make successful inroads before the next assembly elections in the state.”

The party is said to have managed to strengthen its base in the border districts of Murshidabad, Malda, North and South Dinajpur, North and South 24-Parganas and Howrah.

In the 2016 state polls, the ruling camp was ahead in nearly 90 Muslim-dominated Assembly seats, while the BJP had taken lead in one. The Left and Congress, which fought the election in an alliance, were ahead in 39 Assembly segments.

With the AIMIM now entering the picture, it could be advantage BJP as the former is certainly going to divide the Muslim vote-bank of the TMC.

Though the TMC is said to have managed to regain its lost ground in some of the BJP stronghold areas over the last six months, a minor swing in Muslim votes could affect the ruling camp’s calculations, believe analysts.

Last week, Banerjee, for the first time, used the phrase “extremists among the minority” during an event in Cooch Behar which has 80% Hindu and Rajbonshi votes.

“For the BJP, it will not be an issue because its party leaders are very clear about their political stand. However, for Banerjee, it will be a disastrous one and therefore, to cover up the ‘minor swing’ towards the AIMIM, she is now desperate to increase her Hindu vote-share,” said Mohit Ray, a political expert.

In the last parliamentary elections, the TMC got 43% votes (despite losing 12 seats) which is 5% more when compared to the results of 2014 and this is because it got all the Muslim votes.

On the other hand, in the 2016 Assembly elections, the BJP’s vote-share was 12% and in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, it went up to 39%. There was an increase of 27% vote-share mainly because of Hindus coalescing towards the saffron camp.

Now, it is to be seen how Owaisi and his party’s entry in Bengal affects Banerjee’s sway among minority voters.


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