An issue raised by the Trinamul Congress about top BJP leaders being “outsiders” in Bengal seems to have fizzled out after TMC chief Mamata Banerjee on Friday made public the list of 291 party candidates contesting the Assembly elections.
While a section of the people has branded Banerjee an “outsider” after she decided to contest the polls from Nandigram, which is not her home turf, the candidate pick for the high-profile Siliguri constituency in the form of Om Prakash Mishra, who is being considered an “outsider” here, has also not gone down very well with senior TMC leaders and workers.
TMC and religious leaders belonging to the Muslim community in Cooch Behar district have also expressed unhappiness over the decision to field a Hindu candidate from Alipurduar district for the Tufanganj seat.
There are nine Assembly constituencies in Cooch Behar, and four of them are general. Political parties have been usually nominating more than one or two Muslim candidates in Cooch Behar.
Though the TMC had nominated Muslim candidate Fazal Karim Miah and he was elected the MLA from Tufanganj in 2016, this time around, Banerjee has nominated a Hindu, Pranab Kumar Dey (Manik), for the same seat.
Protesting against the decision, several religious organisations recently held a meeting and urged the TMC leadership to reconsider their demand for their candidate for the Tufanganj segment and set up a seven-day deadline.
“If the TMC does not consider their demand, they would be forced to think in another way,” a source there said.
Asked to comment, secretary of the Nashyo Sheikh Unnayan Parishad, Aminal Haque, said: “Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee is now trying hard to prove herself as a real Hindu just to share the vote bank controlled by the BJP. Committing blunders by appeasing Muslims unethically, now she is trying hard to retain power, and she has removed all Muslim leaders from top posts in all block committees. Mamata Banerjee thinks Muslims will cast votes in favour of the TMC to prevent the BJP. As a result, she does not address problems of our community properly. A people’s representative from our community is required to raise our real issues. We urged her to nominate our representative, but the TMC did consider this.”
He further added, “Muslims in North Bengal are anti-BJP. Religious leaders and activists will be waiting for seven days to know about the TMC leadership’s decision, while also keeping an eye on the decision of the Left and the Congress, in association with the Indian Secular Front.”
Notably, the TMC government has issued a notification about forming the Sheikh Development Board just a few days before the Election Commission issued the election notification.
The TMC leadership in Cooch Behar is looking into the matter, but no one knows what the party chief will decide, even as Dey alias Manik is very close to TMC leader and MP Subrata Bakshi, sources said.