ISF Bhangar MLA Nawsad Siddique on Sunday reached Cooch Behar, a district with a minority population of around 30 per cent, to try and build a support base.
This is his first visit to the district farthest from Calcutta, said the MLA.
Siddique reached Sitalkuchi, an Assembly constituency on the India-Bangladesh border where the Nasya Sheikh community or Rajbanshi Muslims are a majority.
The constituency hit headlines during the 2021 Assembly elections as on-duty CISF personnel fired at some locals in a polling booth after violence sparked in the area. Four youths of the minority community died in the firing.
“Since then, Sitalkuchi has been labelled as a tense area in terms of political violence. But this is not true. Trinamul played the Sitalkuchi card to secure votes across the state in its favour. It is unfortunate that the party reaped political dividend from it,” the MLA said at a public meeting.
Political observers said the ISF was trying to build its base in Cooch Behar.
“Unlike most districts of Bengal, a section of Muslims had sided with the BJP in the Lok Sabha elections of 2019 and even the Assembly polls of 2021. This helped the saffron party secure the Cooch Behar Lok Sabha seat and also most Assembly seats in the district. It seems that the ISF is focusing on this population with an anti-Trinamul stand,” said an observer.
He pointed out that over the past couple of years, a section of minorities who had voted for BJP have been disillusioned with the party. “This is because of the alleged atrocities of the BSF at the borders. Also, the BNJP didn’t do much for them after winning in the polls. At such a point, Nawsad Siddique’s visit to the district is significant,” he added.
The Bhangar MLA also slammed Trinamul over its proposed protests in Delhi.
“It is a drama. They (Trinamul) are going to the Supreme Court to save themselves from central agencies like the ED and the CBI. However, they have never approached the Supreme Court on the issue that the Centre has stopped providing funds (to Bengal) for welfare schemes,” he said.
Cooch Behar Trinamul leaders accused the MLA of trying to foment tension in the district.
“He (Siddique) has no purpose in visiting here. People across the district, including the minorities, are with us. The BJP has duped them, and now, this person (Siddique) has come to create a rift among people. Such strategies will not work here as people are with Mamata Banerjee and her development work,” said Avijit De Bhowmik, the Cooch Behar district Trinamul president.