The ongoing assembly elections in West Bengal are important as they can not only define the future of the state and the country, but also test the boundaries of the BJP and its Hindutva Jharkhand. In contrast, Muslims, who make up 27 percent of the state’s population, may have played a major role in determining this fate. Muslim votes are significant in 125 constituencies where they have no more than 20 percent and no less than 59 constituencies where they have more than 40 percent.
Fifteen years ago, the Sachar Committee highlighted the deep plight of Bengali Muslims. Their representation in public employment is only 2.1 percent, as is 27 percent of their population – the lowest rate in the country. Our own analysis (“Sweet Myth”, IE April 20, 2018) shows that since the subcommittee submitted its report, Muslims, Dalits and Hindus have been deprived of income, employment and education from other restricted communities such as OBCs. .
However, in West Bengal, where Muslims along with other communities, including Dalits, have been marginalized, they have gained public employment – thus creating tension among Muslims who obtain regular employment in Badralok. According to the NSSO-Employment-Unemployment Survey (EUS) 2005, 2012 and PLFS (Term Labor Force Survey) 2018, Muslim representation in government and public sector employment increased from 6.7 percent in 2006 to 9 percent in 2012 and 17 percent in 2018. . The 63 percent increase in 2012 was due to Hindu caste prices decreasing by 53 percent in 2018 and 47 percent in 2018. The role of Dalits continued. The tribals increased from 3.5 percent in 2005 to 6.9 percent in 2018.
This figure corresponds to the percentage of Muslims in regular wage employment, which increased from 10 percent in 2012 to 16 percent in 2018. They coincide with the increased representation of Muslims in teaching positions. , Influential Executive Committee on Bengali Politics. According to the All India Higher Education Survey, Muslims constitute 3.12 percent of college teachers in 2012-13 and 7.8 percent in 2018-19. The number of Muslim teachers in West Bengal universities was only 4 percent in 2012–13, but the ratio was about 7 percent in 2018–19.
Most Muslims in West Bengal are “inferior” – caste conversion. Therefore, they have the right to make reservations after the zone. Following the debate, leftist governments included many Muslim communities in the OBC list. Mamta Banerjee not only raised the OBC balance from 10 to 17 percent, but also included 99 Muslim communities in the OBC list.
Apart from increasing the visibility of Muslims in public offices, the TMC regime has also opened up a social space for Muslims. Their increased visibility is significant in the history of the state – as Atul Kohli states, “The politics of modern Bengal, whether radical, conservative or reformist, is dominated by a high-caste, rich and educated minority.”
As a result, Muslims lag behind TMC and find an alternative. Kolkata became the first Muslim mayor in independent India in 2018. In state legislatures, their representation increased from 14.3 percent in 2001 to 20 percent in 2011 and 2016. TMC registered 53 Muslim candidates – 18 percent – in 2016. The party’s share of the Muslim vote in the Lok Sabha elections increased from 40 percent in 2014 to 70 percent in 2019.
But all this can thrive in TMC. Annoyed by the BJP’s brutal attack on Muslim satisfaction, Banerjee not only reduced the number of Muslim candidates by one-third, but also gave them allowances and accommodation for Brahmin priests – a symbolic gesture. At the same time, the BJP took advantage of Bhadralok’s unrest and religiously polarized the central issue of the referendum. The party is contesting on two boards: one, to reclaim “Sonar Bangla” from its Hindu past, and two, “to prevent West Bengal from becoming West Bangladesh” and Muslims fleeing. The BJP never missed an opportunity to accuse the TMC government of being the DIT Prithvish Sarkar (30 per cent government) to represent the Muslim population.
The Samyukta Morcha – an alliance of the Left Front, the Congress and the Secular Front of India (ISF) – is detrimental to the TMC’s chances of splitting Muslim votes. The alliance fielded 66 Muslim candidates out of a maximum of 294.
In fact, in about 60 Muslim constituencies, where Muslims are more than 40 percent, there is a triangular rivalry between the TMC, the Morcha and the BJP. In the South 24 Parganas, North 24 Parganas and parts of Hooghly, the fighting was fought by the Left and TMC as strongholds on the left and in areas where Muslim cleric Abbas Siddiqui received widespread support. In 2019, TMC won 11 of the 14 parliamentary seats in the region. The alliance will fight for Azaduddin Owaisi’s All India Majlis Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) to enter the state. It also changed the confidence of leftist supporters who voted for the BJP in the last election. The BJP’s vote share increased from 10.2 percent in the 2016 assembly elections to 41 percent in the 2019 parliamentary elections, causing the Left’s vote percentage to fall – 27 percent to 7.5 percent. The Left hopes that if TMC is spared violence, their supporters, including Muslims, will return to their jails.
Despite its peaceful communal drive from the growing popularity among Dalit refugees, it will not be easy for the BJP. DMK leaders’ inclusion of the accused of corruption in the BJP did not go down well with the party members.
Whoever wins, West Bengal will not have politics after a tight election campaign and Muslims can be separated again.