The Telegraph
Saturday , May 17 , 2014
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Minorities back Trinamul & Cong

Calcutta, May 16: Huge chunks of the minorities in Bengal, once the mainstay of the Left, appear to have eluded the combine once again and voted tactically and overwhelmingly for Trinamul and the Congress.

Trinamul and Congress candidates won 12 of the 14 Lok Sabha seats that have a high minority concentration.

In the 2011 Assembly polls, the two parties had won as many as 90 of the 120-odd seats with a high minority concentration.

This time, the minorities in the 14 seats felt that voting for the Congress or Trinamul could be a better option as both parties seemed to be in a position to win the polls in areas with considerable minority population, a Muslim leader in Bengal said.

The Narendra Modi factor also played a role in the voting pattern.

Malda North, Malda South, Behrampore and Jangipur — all with high minority concentration — returned the Congress.

“In Jangipur, Murshidabad and Behrampore, we felt that the Congress had better winning prospects. So we voted tactically. Large chunks of our votes went to the Congress. Many voted for Trinamul too,” the Muslim leader said.

Despite the support of the minorities, the Congress failed to win the Murshidabad seat. But that, according to a local Congress leader, was because Trinamul “took away” 2.75 lakh-odd votes from the party.

The Congress clung on to its Malda North and South bastions, constituencies that still value the legacy of the late A.B.A. Ghani Khan Choudhury.

According to a Trinamul general secretary, the party got minority votes in both seats but the landed gentry, which is spread across vast areas of Kaliachak, Habibpur and Ratua, sided with the Congress because of their loyalty to Ghani Khan Choudhury.

In Nadia’s Krishnagar and Ranaghat, minority votes swayed the elections in favour of Trinamul this time. Large parts of Chapra, Tehatta, Kaliganj and Nakashipara, which have a minority population between 50 to 60 per cent, voted Trinamul.

“Had the minorities not supported us in Krishnagar and Ranaghat, winning the two seats would have become difficult for us. The BJP got around 5.5 lakh votes in the two seats. But the Muslims overwhelmingly sided with us,” Trinamul MLA Kallol Khan said.

In North 24-Parganas, Trinamul posted big victory margins in Basirhat and Barasat, trouncing Left candidates.

Basirhat has high minority concentration in Sashan, Deganga and Haroa. Here, for decades, the Muslims had elected a CPI candidate. But in 2009, the trend was reversed by Trinamul, with the party wooing the Left’s minority support base.

“This time, it was no exception. But we did not expect Idris Ali to win by such a huge margin,” minister Jyotipriya Mullick said.

Be it Diamond Harbour and Joynagar in South 24-Parganas, Uluberia in Howrah or Birbhum, the support of the minorities seemed to be with Trinamul.

The CPM’s Mohammad Salim won in Raiganj, another minority-dotted seat, but he got a wafer-thin margin of 1,356 votes. Sources said the result had a lot to do with Trinamul eating into the Congress’s votes.