West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and AIMIM chief Asaduddin Owaisi have traded charges after the former alleged that a ‘political party’ from ‘Hyderabad’ was helping the BJP by taking money from the saffron party.
Speaking in Cooch Behar in West Bengal, Banerjee reportedly talked about the growing phenomenon of extremism even among Muslims. “Extremism is coming out among the minorities, just as there are extremists among the Hindus. There is a political party and they are taking money from the BJP, they are from Hyderabad, not from West Bengal,” ANI quoted Banerjee as saying.
Although Banerjee did not name Owaisi or his party, her reference to a ‘political party from Hyderabad’ made it clear that she meant the AIMIM and its firebrand chief.
Owaisi, according to the news agency, responded saying that ‘by making allegations against me you are giving the message to Muslims of Bengal that Owaisi’s party has become a formidable force in the state.’ Mamata Banerjee, he added, is showcasing her fear and frustration by making such comments.
Owaisi also tweeted, “It’s not religious extremism to say that Bengal’s Muslims have one of the worst human development indicators of any minority If Didi is worried about a bunch of us “from Hyderabad” then she should tell us how BJP won 18/42 LS seats from Bengal.”
West Bengal, deemed as a Trinamool citadel, has a considerably large Muslim population but the BJP managed to dent Banerjee’s fortress by winning 18 out of 42 parliamentary seats in this year’s Lok Sabha polls. The state goes to polls in 2021 and Banerjee faces a stiff challenge from the BJP. She has reason to worry if Owaisi decides to throw his hat in the ring and contest the assembly elections. Her fear may stem from the fact that if Owaisi snatches a sizeable chunk of Muslim votes away from the Trinamool, this would help the BJP, thereby spelling doom for her electorally.