Bengal Congress seeks Sonia Gandhi's nod for alliance with ISF
Ahead of the West Bengal Assembly elections later this year, the state unit of the Congress has sought permission from the party's central leadership to start a dialogue with Furfura Sharif cleric Abbas Siddiqui's newly launched party Indian Secular Front (ISF), saying that it would prove to be a "game-changer" for the Left-Cong alliance in the upcoming polls.
In a letter to Congress chief Sonia Gandhi, party leader and Leader of Opposition (LoP) in the Assembly, Abdul Mannan asked the party president to look into the possibility of a grand alliance in Bengal to "target more winnable seats."
"Amidst the dialogue process with the Left Front on the electoral alliance, I would like to add a possibility of a grand alliance in Bengal to target more winnable seats. You are aware that the Congress Party in West Bengal stood in the state for the support of Minority votes for many years," Mannan wrote to Sonia.
"The President of the ISF is a Hindu but the person behind the front is a Muslim Religious Leader named Pirzada Abbas Siddiqui who belongs to the eminent religious family of Furfura Sharif, Hooghly. He is not only popular for his oratory skill among Muslims but among Dalits and Tribals also," he added.
Mannan said that the addition of IFS in the Left-Congress alliance may be a "game-changer" in the ensuing Assembly Election of West Bengal.
Pointing to the "shift of minority vote" from the party, Mannan said, "the result of the last Loksabha Election shows that Minority vote has shifted from the Party. Best example Is the district of Murshidabad where the Muslim population is not less than 70 per cent, Congress is far behind in every Muslim dominated Assembly segments. The same picture is in Malda."
On Congress party's traditional vote bank, Mannan added, "Out of 30 per cent Muslim population in Bengal, the percentage of Bengali speaking Muslim is 90 per cent, which had been the traditional vote bank of Congress Party. We have failed to hold that support for various reasons. Introduction of a new political entity in the name of Indian Secular Front (ISF) is a threat for all secular parties."
Reacting to the letter from the Bengal Congress leader, Amit Malviya, National in-charge of BJP's I&T Department said, "The true nature of "secular" politics is nothing but Muslim appeasement and here Abdul Mannan, Congress leader in Bengal, in a letter to Sonia Gandhi, can't even hide his desperation to consolidate their Muslim vote bank. Reading the letter it seems as if Hindus don't matter."