Will West Bengal’s Muslims vote for the left?
Are the ruling communists in the stronghold state of West Bengal losing the confidence of its traditional Muslim voters, ahead of their most crucial electoral test this month?
West Bengal’s left boasted that Muslims, a little over 26 percent in the state of 80 million people, were free from discrimination and were living in harmony.
But the ground situation has changed in the last five years with the government pushing for industry after years of land reforms.
Violence over acquisition of land has seen Muslim groups pouring into the streets to protest against the left, and saying they would not vote for them again.
Muslims are also saying they have been ignored for top job positions and were the worst affected when it came to losing farmland for industry, an allegation denied by the communists.
“The Muslims have always stayed with the communists for years, but now they are angry,” says Ahmed Hassan Imran, general secretary of the Muslim Council of Bengal.
“They feel betrayed, the left has not done anything significant to help poor Muslims. The left candidates will not get many Muslim votes,” Siddiqullah Choudhury, chief of the Jamiat-e-Ulema Hind, added.