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Buddha in divisive alert

Calcutta, Dec. 6: Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee today said the CPM was “extremely worried’’ about the Jangipur Lok Sabha bypoll results and was viewing it as the fallout of Hindu and Muslim fundamentalism in many parts of the state.

Addressing a Left Front gathering at the Calcutta University centenary hall on the occasion of the Babri Masjid demolition on this day in 1992, the former chief minister said: “Just look at the Jangipur parliamentary bypoll results. The BJP got 10 per cent votes. A fundamentalist organisation got 7 per cent votes. We are surprised.”

“We are worried, extremely worried, about the poll results. It’s the reflection of both Hindu and Muslim fundamentalism in many parts of the state,” Bhattacharjee added.

In the October bypoll, which was necessitated by the resignation of Pranab Mukherjee after he became President, his son Abhijit won by a wafer-thin margin of around 2,500 votes.

Although Trinamul didn’t field any candidate against Abhijit, political observers attributed his narrow victory margin to the significant increase in the vote share of the BJP and Siddiqullah Chowdhury’s People’s Democratic Council of India (PDCI).

Bhattacharjee said the BJP’s gradual spread in the state was because of the Trinamul government’s move to appease Muslims by offering sops. “This government is offering some sops to Muslims to address their religious sentiments. It’s doing so to appease the Muslims,’’ he said.

“It has announced allowances for religious community people (imams and muezzins). It’s talking about setting up madrasas. All this to keep the Muslims in good humour… not to educate them. This is leading to the rise of the BJP in our state. The emergence of this subtle communalism is a dangerous trend and we must fight it,” the CPM leader said.

Bhattacharjee said the Left government had tried in “right earnest’’ to provide government jobs to economically and socially backward Muslims by creating a 10 per cent quota. “The new government has stopped implementing our 10 per cent quota for Muslims in government jobs,” he said.