The Trinamool Congress which scored a landslide victory in the assembly elections was successful in consolidating the Muslim votes and that had a direct impact on the results of the election. Of the 63 Muslim dominated assembly constituencies elections were held in 61 constituencies and the Trinamool Congress won 58 of them leaving two for the BJP and one for the Sanjukata Morcha.
The bulk of the Muslim dominated seats are mostly in four districts — Murshidabad, Malda, North 24 Parganas and South 24 Parganas. While Murshidabad has 16 Muslim dominated seats among the total 22 Assembly seats the rest of the three districts have 9 assembly seats each. However, elections were held in 61 of these total 63 seats because elections in two districts – Samserganj and Jangipur – were deferred because of the death of candidates. Among the rest of the 61 seats the Trinamool Congress managed to get 58 seats.
Interestingly, among these 58 seats the Trinamool Congress managed to win 30 seats with a margin of 40,000 or more votes. Candidates like SK Jiyauddin at Sujapur in Malda district, Monirul Islam in Farakka, Idris Ali in Bhagabangola – both in Murshidabad – managed to win with a margin of more than 50,000 votes having a vote share above 50 percent of the total votes. The BJP managed to get only one seat in North Dinajpur and another in Murshidabad district while the Indian Secular Front — an alliance partner of the Sanjukata Morcha — managed the single seat in Bhangar in South 24 Parganas district.
With the Hindu votes expected to polarise in favour of the BJP, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee feared that if Muslim votes don’t come to the Trinamool it might lead to her defeat. That was evident in her speeches where she appealed to the electorate not to allow the person who is visiting Bengal from Hyderabad, as he received money from the BJP, to contest the Assembly elections. She was hinting at All India Majlis-e-Ittehad-ul-Muslimeen (AIMIM) chief Asaduddin Owaisi. She also took potshots at Abbas Siddique, the cleric of Furfura Sharif, who formed the Indian Secular Front (ISF) and joined hands with the Congress and the Left Front to contest the election.
The Muslim vote bank is a big and deciding factor in Bengal polls. For almost three-and-a-half decades, the Muslims were wooed and considered a vote bank by the Left Front, which ruled the state for 34 years. The ‘Poriborton’ came when the TMC consolidated the farmers, workers and Muslims, and especially the poor, during their Singur and Nandigram agitations and the Muslims started to shift their loyalty from the Left to the Trinamool Congress.
In 2011 the Left Front was successful in retaining the Muslim vote bank and managed 45 per cent of the minority votes but the huge incumbency factor against the then government allowed Mamata Banerjee to come to power.
“The results prove that she was successful in consolidating the Muslim votes in her favour. Trinamool Congress had the fear of ISF — the newly born political party under the leadership of a Muslim cleric could have been a huge spoiler for the Trinamool Congress. If they could have managed to divide the Muslim vote share then that would have been a huge loss for the ruling Trinamool Congress. However, the fear of NRC and CAA if BJP came to power and the belief that Mamata Banerjee will fight for the cause of the Muslims might have helped the Trinamool Congress in getting their support,” said analysts. — IANS