With 17 constituencies in south Bengal voting in the final phase of elections Monday, Muslim clerics and religious leaders were the most sought after.
According to Maulana Nurar Rehman Barkati, Imam, Tipu Sultan Mosque, one of the most influential mosques in the city, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee rang him up requesting him to ‘ look after’ the Muslim-dominated areas and to see that “votes do not swing to the opponent sides.”
“I received calls from several other senior leaders of the ruling party including Mamata Banerjee, her nephew Abhishek Banerjee and her MP Sudip Bandyopadhyay late at night yesterday. They requested me to see that the minority voters should not stray from the ruling party,” said Maulana Barkati.
Abhishek Banerjee is contesting from Diamond Harbour which has more than 40 per cent Muslim population and Sudip Bandyopadhyay is contesting from North Kolkata which too has a good percentage of minorities. Maulana Barkati added he held several meetings in the districts ‘advising’ people to vote for ‘secular TMC’ in Bengal.
“Since I cannot go to all constituencies and hold meetings, I formed a team of 55 to go to rural areas and hold meetings with minority brothers. My people are helping Nurul Islam, TMC candidate in Jangipur in Murshidabad, Idris Ali, TMC candidate in Basirhat, and Abhishek Banerjee. I have also published an advertisement in a Hindi newspaper today appealing to Muslim voters to vote for Mamata Banerjee,” the Maulana added.
Of the six districts which voted today, five — Murshidabad, Nadia, South 24 Parganas, North 24 Parganas and East Midnapore — have a large percentage of Muslim voters with the largest, 65 per cent, at Murshidabad.
Qazi Fazlur Rahman, who leads the Id prayer on Red Road, said he too has been receiving calls from political leaders across all parties including the ruling TMC, CPM and Congress.
Former railway minister and TMC candidate in Barrackpore Dinesh Trivedi called on Taha Siddiqui, “peerzada” of Furfura Sharif requesting him to “look after” Amdanga in Barrackpore.
When contacted, Siddiqui said, “Left Front chairman Biman Bose, CPM’s Sujan Chakraborty, TMC’s Subhendu Adhikari and Mukul Roy, Farhad Hakim, PCC president Adhir Choudhury and Congress leader Pradip Bhattacharya all visited me.”