The real test for the CPI(M)’s recovery story of the Muslim vote bank will be on Wednesday in the third phase of polls in Bengal.
After Murshidabad and Malda, the three districts — North 24 Parganas, South 24 Parganas and Kolkata which will go to polls on Wednesday — have a considerable chunk of Muslim voters.
While a large section of the party, including chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee, is optimistic that several minority-friendly measures particularly job reservations that the Left Front government initiated after the Lok Sabha debacle will pay dividends to bring back the disgruntled Muslim voters, another section of the party, including party leader Abdur Rezzak Mollah, is still wary that the bogey of land acquisition in the Muslim-dominated areas are still fresh in the minds of the Muslim voters which may go against them.
That the party had been in a quandary about the Muslims, once the loyal vote bank of the ruling Marxists, was evident when it hurriedly set up a three-member committee comprising Mohammed Salim, Abdus Sattar and Hannan Mollah to chalk out the damage control measures to woo them back into the party fold.
Insiders revealed the report (of this committee) has pointed out that the sense of security and the dividends of land reforms the Left Front government has provided are no more effective to check the exodus of the Muslims to the Opposition camps, especially after the report of the Sachar committee portrayed gloomy picture of the community in Bengal. “The overall development, including education and job prospects of the Muslims, is still abysmally low. We have to take care of it or we will fail to coax them back,” the inside report stated.
This apart, the anti-land acquisition campaign in Singur and Nandigram where allegations surfaced that the Left was trying to take land from Muslims also proved damaging, the report analysed. Asian Age