By Syed Ubaidur Rahman
Muslims make around thirty percent of the total population of West Bengal. Though even during this election they haven’t got their due, nonetheless they have increased their tally substantially. The number of the winning Muslims in the state assembly has shot up to 59. In the last legislative assembly the number of Muslim MLAs was just 46.
Though I am still very disappointed with ten percent less Muslim MLAs compared to their overall population in the state, I must join the common folks in celebrating the substantial increase of the Muslims in the state assembly.
But let me first say why I am disappointed. Mamata Banerjee’s victory margin was not big. She received almost four percent less votes than the Left Front. CPI-M led Left front got forty percent of votes in the state assembly elections, compared to thirty six percent that Mamata Banerjee’s Trinamool Congress got. But the Trinamool’s alliance with the Congress party paid handsome dividends for the Didi.
Congress Party, once the main opposition party that had earlier been in power till it was dethroned by the Reds has become a marginal player. Nevertheless its six percent votes helped Trinamool sweep the state elections.
The combined vote percentage of the Alliance was merely 42 percent compared to 40 percent for the Left Front.
But the difference was Muslim votes. Trinamool Congress and its alliance partners did exceedingly well in those areas where Muslims are in large numbers. The alliance did very well in Murshidabad and surrounding areas where Muslims are in overwhelming numbers.
Unfortunately Trinamool Congress didn’t give Muslims seats proportionate to their population. Hope she doesn’t disappoint Muslims when it comes to portfolio allocations. Muslims in the state during communist rule got plum posts. Will the tradition continue with Trinamool/Congress alliance firmly in place is yet to be seen?
We have seen time and again that under Congress rule, Muslims mostly get fringe and unimportant posts. Mostly they are given Haj and awqaf ministries besides some other useless portfolios where the concerned minister remains happy with being a ‘minister’ without much of any influence in governance.
Will it continue this way under Didi too is yet to be seen?
There are seven Muslim women in assembly too. I am sure the fairer sex among Muslims too gets fair representation and proves to the world that she is not the same coy ‘commodity’ that she used to be in the past
The good thing about female Muslim MLA’s is the fact that they have come from very varied and diverse backgrounds. Phiroja Bibi is the daughter of soil who was elected from Nandigram. Her son had lost his life in police firing during land acquisition uproar in the area a few years ago.
Another woman MLA elected on Trinamool ticket is Mumtaz Begum who also is a long time ally of Didi and who has risen from very ordinary background. She won from historic Matiaburj area of Kolkata.
Other two female Muslim MLAs elected on Didi’s party with Paribortan as their agenda are Firdousi Begum from Sonarpur Uttar and Mahamuda Begum from Kumarganj constituencies.
I am sure Didi will give fair representation to fairer sex from among Muslims in her new cabinet. This will ensure that her slogan of paribortan reverberates among poorest of poor among Muslims too.
(Syed Ubaidur Rahman is the editor of Khabrein.Info. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)