Hyderabad-based All India Majlis-e-Ittehad-ul-Muslimeen (AIMIM) chief Asaduddin Owaisi’s strategy to forge an alliance with Pirzada Abbasuddin Siddiqui, the scion of the Siddiqui family, the custodian of the famous Furfura Sharif shrine in Bengal’s Hooghly district, won’t yield electoral dividend within the coming polls, prominent Muslim clerics, imams and political experts have said.

Accused by the ruling Trinamool Congress (TMC), Congress and therefore the Left parties of helping the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) by splitting Muslim votes within the perviously held Uttar Pradesh and Bihar assembly polls, the AIMIM, several Muslim clerics and imams told HT, won’t be accepted by voters in Bengal.

Siddiqullah Chowdhury, a minister within the TMC government and president of the Jamiat Ulema – e –Hind’s state branch has also declared that Owaisi has no place in Bengal politics.

The reaction from heads of the minority community against the AIMIM’s entry into Bengal is critical because all political parties are aware that it impossible to return to power solely with the support of Hindu voters.

Bengal’s Muslim population stood at 27.01% during the 2011 census and is projected to possess increased to around 30% now. Among the districts where the Muslim population is substantially high are Murshidabad (66.28%), Malda (51.27%), North Dinajpur (49.92%), South 24 Parganas (35.57%), and Birbhum (37.06%). there’s an outsized number of Muslim voters in East and West Burdwan districts, North 24 Parganas and Nadia also .

The BJP, which has been accusing chief minister Mamata Banerjee of appeasing the minority community for years, has said that AIMIM is an independent party and may contest anywhere.

According to surveys done by the TMC and therefore the BJP, a swing in Muslim votes can influence poll leads to as many as 120 assembly seats. Union home minister Amit Shah has announced that his party will oust the Mamata Banerjee government by winning over 200 of the state’s 294 seats while Banerjee’s election strategist Prashant Kishor recently tweeted that he will hand over his job if the BJP’s tally crosses 99.

Making his first noticeable move to emerge as a threat to the TMC within the polls due during a few months, Owaisi, on Sunday, met Abbas Siddiqui, who has emerged as a critic of the ruling party in recent months. Siddiqui has even talked about his plans to launch a broad platform with Hindu Dalits and tribal communities for contesting the polls. Owaisi said on Sunday that Siddiqui will decide how AIMIM will contest.

The Furfura Sharif shrine is one among the foremost popular pilgrimage olaces in Bengal. it’s built round the mausoleum of Pir Abu Bakr Siddiqui. It also features a mosque inbuilt 1375. Furfura Sharif draws millions during the Urs festival and therefore the annual fair dedicated to the Pir.

The West Bengal Imams’ Association has reacted to Owaisi’s plans, saying there’s no place for communal politics in Bengal. Of about 40,000 mosques in Bengal, clerics from a minimum of 26,000 are members of the association.

“Whether Hindus or Muslims, people within the state have just one identity. they’re all Bengalis. On one hand, Bengalis are being branded as ghuspetiya (infiltrators in Hindi) by the BJP while on the opposite , some leaders from Hyderabad and Gujarat are coming to Bengal to divide the population on communal lines. this may not be accepted,” said Md Yahiya, chairman of the imams’ association.

In April last year, Yahiya made news by writing to Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar, accusing him of “trying to disturb the communal harmony from a constitutional position” and seeking the retraction of his remarks on the Nizamuddin markaz in Delhi during a letter to the chief minister.

In a significant development, other members of the Siddiqui family, including Pirzada Toha Siddiqui, the foremost prominent among the elders whose support helped the CPI(M) and TMC within the past, has made it clear that he won’t support any move which will help the BJP. “Hindus comprise 70% of the state’s population. If they wanted, the BJP could have come to power way back . we’ll not do anything to let our Hindu brothers down,” he said after Owaisi met Abbas Siddiqui at Furfura Sharif.

On Thursday evening, Pirzada Jiauddin Siddiqui, another scion of the family told HT that Furfura Sharif can’t be dragged into politics. “Neither Pir Abu Bakr Siddiqui nor any of our ancestors joined politics. this is often a spiritual place then shall it’s . What Abbas is doing is entirely his business,” he said.

Maulana Md Shafique Qasmi, the imam of Nakhoda Masjid, said no party can benefit by propagating the politics of faith .

“I am a spiritual man. I don’t know what happened in politics before my birth but today people of Bengal don’t accept communalism. No party , whichever it’s going to be, can enjoy it,” he said.

Built a century ago as a reproduction of the mausoleum of emperor Akbar in Agra, the Nakhoda Masjid is that the biggest and most vital mosque in Kolkata.

Kolkata-based politics professor and election analyst Udayan Bandopadhyay said a tie-up with Abbas Siddiqui can help Owaisi in just a couple of pockets of Bengal.

“Siddiqui’s influence is restricted to some parts of Malda, North Dinajpur and South 24 Parganas. Unless the imams support him, Owaisi won’t benefit much. However, albeit they manage to urge just one of the Muslim votes it’ll be substantial,” Bandopadhyay said.


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