West Bengal Assembly polls is what the All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) next aims for. After the success of AIMIM in the Bihar Election with five seats, is all set to expand to other regions of the country. The next most anticipated elections are that of West Bengal election which is scheduled for next year. AIMIM, along its Chief Asaduddin Owaisi, is seen to be warming up to the West Bengal Chief Minister Mamta Banerjee.
The Hyderabad based party lead by Mr Owaisi has chalked out a well-thought plan for the Bengal elections wherein he has proposed a pre-poll pact with Trinamool National Congress (TMC), claiming that his party shall help the ruling party TMC in driving out the slight possibility of saffron brigade to set its flag in the West Bengal in the upcoming state Assembly elections.
US-educated lawyer and four-time MP from Hyderabad is seen to have hurt the Mahagathbandhan of Bihar majorly in the recent state elections and is said to have been gearing up for a damage to Ms Banerjee in West Bengal, as observed by many analysts.
Mr Owaisi’s statement makes the news at the time when West Bengal Chief Minister openly criticized AIMIM and called it an ‘outsider’ who are about to ‘harass’ and ‘terrorize’ the people of the state. She has profoundly urged the people to ‘resist outsiders’ in the upcoming Assembly elections.
Advantage & Strategy of AIMIM in West Bengal:
The main advantage of AIMIM in West Bengal could be the substantial Muslim majority of the state, for whom Mr Owaisi can be labelled as a ‘messiah’. In one of the statements by him, he vehemently highlighted the social and economic conditions of Muslims of Bengal and said it was ‘worse than many places in the country’, he further added that the community is almost alienated under Ms Banerjee’s government.
AIMIM has not contested elections in Bengal previously; evidently, it seems confident about fair chances in the state after winning five seats in Bihar’s Seemanchal region, which borders West Bengal.
Here is why the geographical location is important, as the adjoining districts of Bengal, like Seemanchal, have a high concentration of Muslims – Uttar Dinajpur (49.9 per cent), Maldah (51.3 per cent), Dakshin Dinajpur (24.6 per cent) and Murshidabad (66.3 per cent).
According to the linguistic survey of India, there is also cultural similarity in the places chosen by Mr Owaisi in the past and the ones he has chosen for the future. Surjapuris form a big chunk of the Muslims in Seemanchal of Koch Rajbonshi origin and speak a dialect similar to the Koch Bengali of Maldah.
The unwavering support of Surajpuri Muslims paved AIMIM’s path into the corners of Bihar. The hero of this wave is in the Bihar elections, Akhtarul Iman, the AIMIM Bihar President, is himself a Surjapuri and has won from the Amour seat in Purnea district. Mr Iman is most likely to play a vital role in AIMIM’s campaign in West Bengal.
When seen discretely the regions opted by Mr Owaisi are nearer to the Bangladesh border along with Assam, the running fear of a National Register of Citizens (NRC) exercise has grappled the region.
Difference being that the TMC has been more enthusiastic about speaking against the CAA-NRC where Ms Banerjee had also led a march against it, herself.
Challenges in front of AIMIM:
The difficulty that might cross AIMIM is the absence of a robust local face in the region as they had in Bihar election like Mr Iman.
Congress has a firm grip on North Bengal. The TMC has been trying to make inroads here and expects to do well in the 2021 polls in this particular area. Anti-incumbency against the TMC is comparatively less in the region.
AIMIM is trying to collect candidates in West Bengal while elaborating more about their support base in the state. A member of AIMIM said, “There are good leaders from Social Democratic Party of India (SDPI), Welfare Party of India (WPI), State Muslim League, Indian National League and other Dalit organizations (which contested the 2016 assembly polls) who extended their support to us. We are going to play a crucial role in the assembly polls in Bengal. We will try to bring the minorities and Dalits under one umbrella, and our slogan will be ‘Jai Meem, Jai Bhim’.”
It was known that the West Bengal unit of the Social Democratic Party of India (SDPI) was dissolved by the central committee four years ago, but its members are still active in Bengal’s politics. Likewise, small parties like the Indian Unity Centre (IUC), Bahujan Mukti Party and Party for Democratic Socialism contested the 2016 assembly polls.
Though the West Bengal elections are scheduled for 2021 but the cross swords has made its way already. ‘Hyderabad party is taking money from BJP’: Ms Banerjee’s remarks on AIMIM to which Mr Owaisi said ‘I have empirical evidence to prove that. And I also have statistics to say this,’
After the recently concluded Bihar Elections, Mr Owaisi’s party has been subject to attacks from multiple quarters. It is called a ‘vote cutter’ and ‘B-team of the BJP’ whose aim is to divide Muslim votes and damage other ‘secular parties’.
It is seen through decades that West Bengal has been rejecting the politics of polarization and communalism.
On Tuesday night the CPM and Congress held a two-hour to plan its strategy as the news of AIMIM contesting in the West Bengal elections broke out.
Through his speeches which are widely shared on social media, Mr Owaisi has achieved a great deal of popularity, especially among younger Muslims across India. However, will this lead to electoral success in West Bengal like it did in Bihar?
Mr Owaisi’s party has been trendy in Telangana; it is fascinating to see it grow in other parts of the regions and changing the political demographics of these. The 2021 elections alone can decide whether the expansion of AIMIM is going to be a relief to the minority or a curse to Left parties as seen in Bihar.