With the Assembly elections nearing, more drama unfolds in the poll-bound West Bengal. The anxious Mamata Banerjee has been trying her best to keep her political opponents at bay. Days after trying to debar BJP’s ‘Parivartan Yatra’ in West Bengal’s Murshidabad, the West Bengal police, working at the behest of the Mamata Banerjee government, has denied permission to the firebrand Hyderabad MP Asaduddin Owaisi led AIMIM to carry out his election rally in the minority-dominated Metiabruz area of Kolkata.
According to reports, Asaduddin Owaisi’s All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) had to cancel its very first rally in Kolkata, scheduled to be held on 25th February (Thursday), after Kolkata police denied permission for it. AIMIM’s state secretary Zameerul Hasan claimed the police did not give them permission for the rally.
“We had applied 10 days back for permission. But today we were informed by the police that they will not permit us to hold the rally. We can’t be cowed down by such tactics of the ruling TMC. We will discuss and soon announce a fresh date for a programme,” Hasan was quoted as saying on Wednesday.
It is being said that Owisi’s party, which was to kick off the party’s campaign ahead of the West Bengal assembly elections with this rally had made all the required preparations for today including putting up posters for the planned event. The party said that it had applied for permission for this rally almost 10 days back, but last moment, the efforts were impeded by the state police.
Interestingly, while Asaduddin Owaisi’s All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) has pinned the blame on the state police, TMC has denied any involvement in the cancellation of the rally.
For the uninitiated, West Bengal’s Home Department, which discharges multifarious responsibilities, one of them being the management of police forces in the state, in headed by none other than the West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee. Considering this, it is a little incomprehensible how TMC has claimed of not having a hand in the cancellation of the event.
Mamata Banerjee and Asaduddin Owaisi locked in a war for Muslim votes
Despite the state government’s denial, this move comes as no surprise. Anyone who has been following the politics in West Bengal closely is aware that Mamata Banerjee’s Trinamool Congress party and Hyderabad MP Asaduddin Owaisi’s AIMIM have been locked in a battle for Muslim votes in Bengal, and this denial of permission can be seen as TMC trying to preserve its Muslim vote bank.
It may be recalled how Mamata Banerjee had launched a scathing attack at Owaisi after the latter announced to enter the electoral fray in the state. She had accused AIMIM of being under the payroll of BJP, saying that they were indirectly helping BJP by dividing the Muslim votes. However, responding to the allegations of Mamata Banerjee, Asaduddin Owaisi had lambasted her by saying that he cannot be bought for money.
Actually, the fact is that Mamata Banerjee has spent a lot of her time, energy and political capital on her Muslim vote bank. Probably, like her previous two terms, this time too, Mamata Banerjee had been confident of capitalising on the communal vote bank to regain power in the state. Now, Mamata Banerjee faces a catch 22 situation. On one side, Asaduddin Owaisi is threatening to capture her Muslim vote bank while on the other, the Hindus have already consolidated behind the BJP due to her continuous Muslim appeasement. In such a precarious situation, it is only just that the unnerved Mamata Banerjee wants at least Owaisi to not enter the electoral fray of West Bengal.