Muslims underrepresented in West Bengal municipal elections 2010

By Zaidul Haque for,

Kolkata: They treat each other as enemy when elections come, be it national or local. But one point on which the political parties have unwritten silent agreement is: not to give Muslims tickets proportionate to their population. Fewer candidates from the community which is one-fourth of West Bengal population have been able to get tickets for the municipal elections to be held in the state on May 30.

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The situation is not good even in Murshidabad where Muslims count 70% of the district population. No party, including Congress and Trinamool Congress, has given more than 30% of their tickets in the district to Muslims.

Murshidabad is the most Muslim populated district in West Bengal as well as India. But in political empowerment their position is very poor. CPI-M led Left Front, Trinamool Congress, Congress and all other parties are trying to get Muslim votes who will decide their future in the Municipal Election. But no party has given tickets to Muslims in proportion to the population of the community.

There are seven municipalities in Murshidabad. Except Behrampur, election will be held for six municipalities — Murshidabad, Jiaganj-Azimganj, Jangipur, Kandi, Beldanga and Dhuliyan. Jangipur is the Lok Sabha constituency of Central Minister Mr Pranab Mukherjee and Kandi comes under the constituency of MP Mr Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury.

In Murshibad, voting will take place in 103 wards in current municipal election. CPI-M led Left Front has fielded 86 candidates. There are only 25 Muslims among them. That means Muslim representation is just 21.5%. Congress has fielded 103 candidates, but Muslims are only 27, that is 27.8%. Besides, Trinamool Congress nominated 95 candidates, but Muslims are only 26, that is 24.6%. While Muslim population in Murshidabad is nearby 70%, but Muslim representation in the local body elections will be around 28%. One can guess the situation in other districts where Muslims are not in considerable numbers.

Not only this, the underrepresentation of the community is visible at other political fronts also. Murshidabad has three Lok Sabha seats. Only one is held by Muslim. Moreover, no political party head of the district is Muslim.

This trend is going on in some other districts also where the Muslim population is high like Malda, South 24 Parganas etc. All the political parties are in the same boat. This trend is continuing all over West Bengal. Though all political parties are talking about Muslims in their speeches in election campaign, their sympathy is not reflecting on the ground – particularly in the distribution of tickets.

The Municipal Election in West Bengal will be held on May 30 while vote will be counted on June 2.

There are 81 municipalities in the state. Except Behrampur Municipality, elections will be held on all other municipalities.

This Municipal Election results are very vital for the ruling Left Front Govt specially for CPI-M and rival Mamata Banerjee’s Trinamul Congress along with Indian National Congress. The results will set the mood for the coming assembly elections.

In West Bengal there are 1792 Wards. Among them wards reserved for Women Candidates is: 499, Wards reserved for Scheduled Castes Candidates: 269, Wards reserved for Scheduled Tribe Candidates: 7.

The ruling Left Front has been losing their votes since after Nandigram incidents. After that, in Panchayat election the ruling CPI-M lost power in some districts like Medinipur, South 24 Parganas where they had strong hold. The trend continued in the last Lok Sabha elections also. So, coming Municipal Election will almost decide who will win the upcoming Assembly election due in 2011.

In 2005, the Municipal election was won by CPIM, but after Nandigram incidents by-election was held in some municipalities where CPI-M lost their ground. The 2005 election was held for 79 Municipalities out of 81 in West Bengal. CPI-M led Left Front was alliance with Congress in Centre. The front bagged 48 Municipality among 79 which was 11 up from the 2000 election. BJP-Trinamul Congress alliance lost their 9 Municipality.

But later Congress and Trinamul Congress tied up. In the last Parliament Election Trinamul Congress & Congress alliance got more seats than Left Front. After that, by-election was held in 16 Municipalities where CPI-M lost many of them due to Muslim vote shift to the Trinamul & Congress alliance.

However, in this municipal election there is no alliance between Congress & Trinamul Congress. So, CPI-M led left Front hopes for something good.

Kolkata Municipal Corporation is also vital.
CPI-M gained in Kolkata Municipality in the last election. Then Congress & Trinamul Congress fought with each other. This year is going to be the same. Though Trinamul & Congress make alliance in Central Government, they are fighting with each other in current Municipal election.

In Kolkata Municipal Corporation there are 141 seats. Trinamul Congress is stronger than the Congress here. So, if Congress bagged more votes that will be helpful for CPI-M led Left Front party.

Central leader of Congress Mr Pranab Mukherjee appealed to the voters to caste the vote against the ruling party, if not Congress, Trinamul will be second choice.

But Trinamul Congress leader Mamata Banerjee expressing her view to the press said Trinamul Congress is the only party who will be main controlling party in West Bengal.

Though CPI-M hopes to divide the rival vote that might not happen as it, seems, people have made up mind to remove the CPI-M rule. In this situation if Muslim vote is not divided in high range, trend shows CPI-M led Left Front may be loser and rival Trinamul & Congress may be gainer. We have to wait for 2nd June 2010, the day when results will be declared.