For the last few months, he had been deliberating on options on whether he should form a political party and go solo or support other political parties. Last month, AIMIM's Asaduddin Owaisi met Siddiqui to discuss the upcoming elections and a possible alliance.
Abbas Siddiqui will contest 60-80 seats in Bengal assembly elections 2021. (IE)
West Bengal Election 2021: Abbas Siddiqui, influential cleric of Hooghly’s Furfura Sharif, will today launch a political party to contest the upcoming assembly elections in West Bengal. For the last few months, he had been deliberating on options on whether he should form a political party and go solo or support other political parties. Last month, AIMIM’s Asaduddin Owaisi met Siddiqui to discuss the upcoming elections and a possible alliance.
Siddiqui has now confirmed to The Indian Express that he will launch a political party and have an alliance of 10 parties. He also confirmed that his party will contest 60 to 80 seats where it has a good chance of winning. Owaisi too plans to contest over 70 seats. By some accounts, Bengal has 125-odd seats where Muslims votes are in sizable numbers and are enough to top the balance. Of these 125 seats, 41 have a minority population of over 50 percent and 80 plus seats have Muslims votes of 30 (+-5) per cent.
Siddiqui’s entry into politics has riled Mamata, who had won 90 of these Muslim-dominated seats. Now, the cleric is expected to eat into majority of these seats considering his influence and anti-incumbency factor against chief minister Mamata Banerjee. Speaking to IE, Siddiqui said that the Congress, CPM and Trinamool did nothing for the Muslims or the poor in Bengal. He said he was speaking not only for Muslims but also for the poor tribals and the downtrodden.
Divulging what made him join politics, the cleric said that it was the NRC and CAA which first made him shift from giving sermons to working towards a political platform. He said he was convinced that they needed to send their people to the Assembly, raising the right issues and objecting to the wrongs. “The BJP is an enemy of the country,” he told IE.
Siddiqui accused the Trinamool, and other parties of playing with the votes of minorities that allowed the BJP to gain ground in Bengal. He also refuted the charge that his entry in politics will divide the minority votes thereby helping the BJP, like it did in 2019. The TMC too has raised this issue earlier when Owaisi announced that he would contest Bengal elections. The TMC then said that he was B-Team of the BJP.
Reacting to this charge, Siddiqui said that he was ready to work with the TMC but the latter wasn’t. He then referred to the saffron party’s performance in the last parliamentary election to counter the ‘division of votes narrative’. The cleric said that when he was not in politics, even then the BJP won seats in Bengal. In 2019, the BJP won 18 of 42 Lok Sabha seats with 40.7 per cent vote share. In 2014, it had just two seats and about 20 per cent votes.