Kolkata: Despite nursing a grudge against the state government for its alleged failure to curb communal riots, the minorities in Bengal are likely to vote for the Trinamool Congress (TMC) to stop BJP’s march in the upcoming Lok Sabha polls in West Bengal, leaders said.
A deciding factor in several Lok Sabha seats in the state, the minorities especially Muslims are likely to vote for the ruling TMC which they perceive as a ‘credible force’ unlike the Congress-Communist Party of India (Marxist) alliance, they claimed.
“Despite being angry against the state government over various issues including several riots that took place in the state, the minorities will vote for TMC in the state to ensure their safety and security,” Mohammed Kamruzzaman, General Secretary of All Bengal Minority Youth Federation told this agency. “In Bengal, TMC is the most credible force as it is in power, when it comes to opposing the BJP,” he added.
The Imams of the city, who hold a sway over the large Muslim population here, felt that the minorities should vote for the strongest secular candidate.
“We would appeal to the minorities to vote in favour of the strongest secular forces in their respective areas. Efforts should be made to ensure that only secular and democratic candidates win,” Qazi Fazlur Rahman, the Imam, who conducts prayers on Eid at Red Road every year here, said.
It should be mentioned here that the Red Road Eid prayers witnesses the biggest congregation of Muslims in the state.
Rahman’s view was echoed by Shafique Qasmi, Imam of Nakhoda Masjid, the biggest mosque in the city, who stressed that the minorities must ensure that there was no division of their votes and only a secular and democratic force comes to power.
The minorities, who comprise nearly 30 per cent of the electorate in West Bengal, are a deciding factor in nearly 16-18 Lok Sabha seats of the state. They are a vote bank that every political party has tried to woo.
Parliamentary seats such as Raiganj, Coochbehar, Balurghat, Malda North, Malda South, Murshidabad in north Bengal and constituencies such as Diamond Harbour, Uluberia, Howrah, Birbhum, Kanthi, Tamluk, Joynagar in south Bengal have very high Muslim population.
The TMC presently holds a great influence over the minority votes in the state but several riots that took place in the last four years have angered a section of the minorities. The party however, blames the BJP for flaring up of communal tensions.
“The minorities are very well aware of developmental work that the TMC government has done. Bengal is known for communal harmony but BJP is trying to disturb that for its own political gains,” TMC leader and minister Firhad Hakim said.
The BJP, however, has a different argument to offer. “The policies of the West Bengal government were only aimed at protecting the interests of a specific community in the state. This has ignited anger among the majority community which feels only BJP can protect their interests,” BJP state president Dilip Ghosh said.