In West Bengal, Mamata Banerjee’s blatant appeasement politics has ‘empowered’ the Islamist leaders to openly rant against Hindus and polarise the Muslims. In a provocative speech that he delivered, Abbas Siddique who Is cleric at Furfura Sharif, claimed that Muslims (constituting 35%) are the majority religion in West Bengal since Dalits, Adivasis and Mathuas are not Hindus. He is replicating Mamata’s strategy: ‘Unite Muslims, Divide Hindus’. This controversial cleric had earlier asked Mamata, why she had sent such girls to the parliament who were useless (referring to 2 actor MPs)?
Abbas is planning to ally with Owaisi’s AIMIM to contest the 2021 Bengal Assembly elections. With the leaders and supporters deserting TMC, the party is facing an unprecedented crisis since Mamata’s trusted vote bank- that of Muslims are leaving her. Abbas had initially asked Mamata for 50 seats for his about to be formed a party to ally with TMC. But Mamata is reluctant to share power with him.
Muslims in Bengal follow either of the two religious institutions, the Jamiat Ulema-e-Hind and Furfura Sharif. Jamiat is influential in the north, while Furfura holds the sway in the south. In 2011, Furfura played an important role in Mamata’s accession to power. But now they claim that Mamata didn’t do enough for the community members. With the AIMIM targeting massive expansion, due to the heavily polarised atmosphere, West Bengal is the best possible option before them. In the recent Bihar election, AIMIM had won 5 seats. A good performance in West Bengal can make upgrade them to the status of a National Party.
With the Muslim votes drifting away, Mamata’s political future becomes bleak. This scenario confirms that religious appeasement eventually helps hard-line leaders and political outfits to emerge as powerful.