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Battleground Bengal: Mamata plays the secularism card against Modi with an eye on Muslim votes

Kolkata: A war of words has broken out between West Bengal Chief Minister and Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee and Gujarat Chief Minister and Bharatiya Janata Party Prime Ministerial Narendra Modi ahead of the next phase of elections in West Bengal with the crucial Muslim vote at stake.

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"I demand the Election Commission to immediately arrest Narendra Modi. He is not suitable for politics. If he can't be secular he can't be the Prime Minister," Mamata said, lashing out in her fiery style at Narendra Modi and the BJP.

In these elections, Mamata has been forced to offen attack her former ally and it's not just because of the BJP alleging corruption by her government or Modi harping on Gorkhaland. Mamata is banking on the 30 per cent Muslim votebank in the state to emerge as the third largest party, a fact that Modi has not failed to highlight time and again. "Mamata is busy with serving intruders," is what Modi said at a rally.

But Didi continues undeterred. Muslim clerics like Maulana Barkati have advised her to launch scathing attacks on Modi to increase her chances. "An alliance with the BJP clearly won't happen. Mamata needs to protect communal harmony and she stands a better chance at the federal front," said Maulana Barkati, Shahi Imam, Tipu Sultan Mosque.

 

Trinamool's manifesto in fact lists secularism higher than development or governance. This is not surprising considering the fact that in rural West Bengal, Muslim households constitute 30.9 per cent. In Malda and Murshidabad, 90 per cent of the constituencies have a considerable Muslim population and in North 24 Parganas, South 24 Parganas and East Midnapore, 40 per cent constituencies have a major Muslim population.

The CPM is also accusing Mamata of divisive politics. "Mamata is playing divisive politics. It won't be of any long term use. It might give her short term advantage," said CPM leader Mohammad Salim.

Mamata is keen to expand her base from Writers to Race Course Road, but not at the cost of losing out the state she managed to colour green after three decades of political struggle. So with an eye on the 2016 Assembly elections, for now, Didi will continue to be on the offensive when it comes to Modi.

Source: IBN Live

Tags: #RegionalReport, #Bengal

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