Rift between Congress and ISF takes center stage at Left’s mega brigade rally

Rift between Congress and ISF takes center stage at Left’s mega brigade rally

Hummingbird News Desk

KOLKATA, 28 FEB: The ongoing fissure between Congress and the newly formed Indian Secular Front (ISF) took the centre stage at the Left Front’s mega brigade rally on Sunday, causing discomfiture for the federal front which is shaping up in the poll-bound West Bengal.

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The rhythm fell when Muslim cleric and ISF chief Abbas Siddiqui walked up the stage at a time West Bengal Congress president Adhir Chowdhury was then addressing.

As the Left leaders got busy with welcoming Abbas amid massive cheer from the ISF supporters, Mr Chowdhury was almost compelled to stop his speech.

Later, he had taken the decision to leave the dais when CPI-M leaders Md. Salim and Biman Bose were indistinctly heard asking Mr Chowdhury to allow Abbas to speak for a while.

“Then I won’t speak anymore,” the Congress Lok Sabha MP replied, following which Left Front chairman Biman Bose requested Mr Chowdhury to continue with his speech.

Siddiqui, popularly known among his followers as ‘Bhaijaan’, later urged the people to go all out to support the Left Front’s candidate and claimed that the Left Front leaders have accepted all his demands.

“I have come here to join the alliance and not for appeasement. The CPI (M) leaders Biman Basu, Md. Selim has agreed to give us 30 seats. The Congress yet to comment on it, if the Congress wants to do friendship with me I am open to it,” Abbas mentioned.

Slamming the ruling Trinamool Congress, Abbas claimed that Mamata Banerjee’s party is the team ‘B’ of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

“Mamata Banerjee will be completely wiped off after the Assembly polls. I am challenging that the alliance will form the next West Bengal government. Neither the TMC nor the BJP will come to power,” Abbas said.

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Siddiqui, during his address, said he wanted to hold the rally on his own and if the alliance had been stitched, he would have brought in more than double the number of people who were present to attend the mega rally.

“But I have come only as Biman da asked me to come. I hope good sense would prevail. I will make sure that Mamata (Banerjee) score zero in Bengal. If Mamata is defeated then only (Narendra) Modi could be defeated,” he said.

The effect of Siddiqui’s presence was evident as the audience broke into thunderous applause and cheer when he graced the stage, but the crowd scattered after he left the dais, well before the rally ended.

Siddiqui has been making news over the past several months with his speeches criticising the state’s Trinamool Congress (TMC) regime during his religious events. Apart from the crowd at and temperament of Abbas Siddiqui events, what has been drawing the attention of the media, including social media, was his hardly worded speeches targeting the Mamata Banerjee government for her alleged betrayal of the Muslim community, as well as the Other Backward Classes (OBCs).

Among some of his controversial comments were the one against the TMC’s Basirhat MP, the actor-turned political Nusrat Jahan, saying she earns money “by showing [her] body“. He had controversially said, following the New Delhi riots in 2020, that Allah should send a virus to India so that crores could die; it did not matter even if he himself died. Siddiqui later said his speech was used out of context but tendered an apology nevertheless.

While forming the party, he included representatives of the Dalit and tribal communities. He seems to enjoy considerable popularity in parts of south Bengal districts such as South 24-Parganas, North 24-Parganas, Hooghly, Howrah, Burdwan and Birbhum. His brother, Naushad, is the chairman of ISF and Simal Soren, a member of a tribal community, is the president.

The Left has, over the past few months, repeatedly said that they did not consider Siddiqui to be a communal force. “He is raising the issues of the common people, the poor masses, not the issues of any particular community,” the CPI-M state secretary Surjya Kanta Mishra said in January. CPI-M politburo member Md Salim, echoed the same.

But the Left and the Congress’s moves have seen myriad reactions, as it appears to a section of people that the BJP would be the biggest gainer from such a deal.

The BJP, indeed, has been quite happy with the developments around Siddiqui.

“It would have benefited us even if Siddiqui struck a deal with the AIMIM. It would have not only split Mamata’s Muslim vote bank but also helped us polarise the Hindus against the rise of Muslim fundamentalism. Now that Siddiqui has found a bigger patron than Owaisi, it should be even better for us. If all the parties are appeasing Muslim fundamentalists, who other than us can protect the Hindus?” asked a BJP Lok Sabha MP who did not want to be named.

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