The All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) party suffered a huge setback in West Bengal when its Bengal unit leader Anwar Pasha led an exodus from the Asauddin Owaisi led party to Mamata Banerjee’s Trinamool Congress (TMC).
Pasha joined TMC along with a few other AIMIM members in the presence of TMC MLAs Maloy Ghatak and Bratya Basu. Speaking to media persons in Kolkata, Pasha said, “AIMIM has played a hand in the polarisation of votes in Bihar and thus helped the BJP in forming the government there, but this will not happen in Bengal.”
AIMIM had won five key constituencies in Bihar in the Seemanchal region; Amour, Bahadurganj, Baisi, Jokihat and Kochdhaman, where the Muslim population is as high as 75 percent in some areas. In many other Muslim majority constituencies, the AIMIM was accused of splitting the Muslim vote, ultimatey causing victory for the BJP.
Pasha said that nearly 30 percent of the people of West Bengal were followers of Islam and various minorities have lived in the state amidst communal harmony, which is why political developments in Bihar cannot be allowed to be replicated in Bengal. He urged Muslims in the state to stand behind the TMC and Mamata Banerjee.
This is significant given how on Sunday Owaisi had revealed that his party was considering running for elections in the state and was considering various strategies and alliance options. If what happened in Bihar is any indication, AIMIM could have an impact in many constituencies with a significant Muslim population.
The party could be a game changer in the two Maldahas. Maldaha Uttar covers the assembly segments of Maldaha, Habibpur, Gazole, Chanchal, Harishchandrapur, Malatipur and Rauta. Of these the last four have majority Muslim populations. Dakshin Maladaha is where the Kalichak riots took place in January 2016, when a protest march, against derogatory remarks about Prophet Mohammed allegedly made by Hindu Mahasabha leader Kamlesh Tiwari, had turned violent. The rampaging mob ransacked a police station, a block development office and destroyed public property including government and police vehicles. Since then, this region has remained under the scanner for communal sensitivity.
Other Muslim majority areas where the AIMIM could swing the election in favour of the BJP are Murshidabad, Krishnanagar, Ranaghat and Bashirhat.