Millennium Post

Bleak saffron prospects in east

Unless a miracle happens, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) will perform disastrously in both West Bengal and Assam in the ensuing 16th parliamentary elections. The extravagant campaign with media hype, branding it as the ‘Hindu nationalist party’ that the Dakar-based Marxist economist Samir Amin characterised as a party of the ‘rightwing Hindu comprador’, will end in a damp squib. In West Bengal, the possibility of re-election of its sitting MP Jaswant Singh from the Darjeeling constituency seems very bleak as the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) may not support his candidacy this time again.

In Assam, where it has four MPs from Guwahati, Mongoldoi, Nowgong and Silchar constituencies, BJP may find it difficult even to retain two seats due to the electoral understanding the Indian National Congress has struck with the All India Democratic United Front (AIDUF) which has a single MP from Assam but if it manages to prevent split of minority votes between the INC and AIDUF, the two parties together have chances of winning 12 out of 14 LS seats from Assam. The INC has at present seven MPs. If the poll pact is implemented properly, the INC may win nine and three may go to the AIDUF. The remaining two seats are to be shared by the BJP and the Asom Gana Parishad, which has a lone sitting MP.

However, to quote a very senior politician of Assam, previously with the INC, the BJP possesses ‘mischief-making potentials’ which can upset expectations of INC in the two states. The Sangh Parivar-constituent will not bag any seat but may ensure the defeat of some sitting MPs of the ruling All India Trinamool Congress in West Bengal such as the Calcutta North, Birbhum, Krishnagar and Basirhat seats But whether the beneficiary in that case will be INC or the Left Front under the hegemony of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) cannot conjectured at least now as the polling is scheduled to take place not before early April.

The poll prospects of AITC may be marred due to the tactical blunder of the AITC supremo and West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee for picking up a highly controversial candidate, Ahmed Hasan Imran for the fifth seat in the very-recently held Rajya Sabha elections from the state through wanton defection in which surreptitious financial transactions are believed to have taken place. A middle-level officer of state intelligence branch told this writer that the Bangladesh National Party (BNP) and the banned Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) party had a role in the victory of Imran. A few days before the polling for RS elections, the AITC chief suddenly entered the Ecopark. She was on her way back to her residence after laying the foundation stone for the second campus of Presidency University at Rajarhat New Town and inauguration of Yatra festival at Barasat. Her entry into Ecopark at New Town was not known to the security network. She entered with a top AITC MP and a few unknown persons. The IB official believes that they came all the way from Bangladesh and ‘not even security staff were allowed to accompany her.’ The financial negotiations reportedly took place as the Imran too was there. It was a 50-minute meeting.

The Sangh Parivar did smell a rat in it. The Hindu Janajagruti Samiti in its website carried a newsy feature, captioned – Nominating an alleged ‘Hard Core SIMI Man’ and ‘Fundamental Editor’ for a Rajya Sabha Seat in WB by Mamata Banerjee’.

The new RS member, editor of a pro-Islamic daily Kalom Hindu Janajagruti Samiti ‘Imran Hasan is very close to all leading Islamists viz. AIDUF Chairman Badaruddin Azmal ... has a communal legacy of Aligarh University where he allegedly founded SIMI (Student Islamic Movement of India in 1977 under the leadership of Mohammad Ahmadullah Siddiqi and Imran was elected then as the founder President (Ameer-e-halka, Magribi Bangal) of SIMI Bengal zone. Ahmed Hasan Imran acted as key person of Islamic Development Bank in eastern zone of India,’ the website wrote.

The AITC chief has established a rapport with a few Imams of prominent mosques of Kolkata but these clerics are not accepted by the Bengali-speaking Muslims comprising more than 80 per cent of the Muslims who account for about 28 per cent of the population of the state. In Assam too, Muslims comprise 31 p. c. of total population.

For the BJP and its sister organisations under the Rashriya Swayamsevak Sangh, the L S elections in the two states open up a new opportunity for spreading their ideology and supra-nationalist politics. The AITC has to confront this new challenge.

The Congress and the LF may cash in on the confrontation between the BJP and AITC, although the top brass of BJP at its national headquarters do not endorse the antagonistic stance towards Mamata Banerjee.

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