Kolkata: AIMIM Chief Asaduddin Owaisi will kick off his party's poll campaign in West Bengal on February 25 with a rally in minority-dominated Metiabruz area of the city. Owaisi, who after AIMIM's good show in the 2020 Bihar assembly poll has announced that it will contest the Bengal election, has been discussing a possible alliance with Furfura Sharif cleric Abbas Siddiqui, who had recently floated the Indian Secular Front (ISF). "This will be our party supremo Assaduddin Owaisi's first rally in the state in this poll season. He will kick off our party's poll campaign in the state," AIMIM state secretary Zameerul Hasan said.
The Metiabruz seat in the city is minority-dominated and falls in Diamond Harbour Lok Sabha constituency which is represented by Abhishek Banerjee, the nephew of TMC supremo and Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee. AIMIM has already come up with posters and the slogan 'Awaz uthaneke waqt aa chuka hain (time has come to raise your voice)'.
Owaisi's proposed rally has evoked sharp reactions from the ruling TMC. "The AIMIM is nothing but a proxy of BJP. Owaisi is well aware that Muslims here are mostly Bengali-speaking and won't support him. In Bengal, Muslims stand firmly with Mamata Banerjee," senior TMC leader Sougata Roy asserted.
Owaisi had visited West Bengal on January 3 to meet Siddiqui and had said the ruling TMC should introspect and find out what worked in BJP's favour in the state during the 2019 Lok Sabha election in which it won 18 of the 42 seats.
"TMC should analyse why its members were leaving," he had said.
Prominent Muslim leaders in West Bengal have claimed that the parties are apprehensive that political equations in the polarised state are set to witness significant changes as the sway of non-BJP parties over minorities appears to be set for a stiff challenge with the entry of All India Majlis-e- Ittehadul Muslimeen in the poll scene.
According to a senior leader of the Hyderabad-based party, Owaisi has seen in West Bengal a fertile ground for his expansion plans as Muslims constitute around 30 per cent of the state's population. Of the 30 per cent at least 24 per cent are Bengali- speaking. Election to the 294-member West Bengal Assembly is likely to be held in April-May.