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Tuesday, June 22, 2021

Explained: What will the Left and Congress gain by joining hands with Abbas Siddiqui?

The alliance is being seen as a shot in the arm for the Congress-Left alliance, which got only 13% of the votes and two seats in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. With the ISF’s support, the parties hope to win back some of the lost ground.

Written by Santanu Chowdhury , Edited by Explained Desk | Kolkata |
Updated: March 15, 2021 10:17:11 am
West Bengal elections, Bengal elections, Abbas Siddiqui, Who is Abbas Siddiqui, Indian ExpressMuslim cleric turned political leader, Abbas Siddiqui delivers a speech at Brigade Parade Ground in Kolkata, Sunday, Feb. 28, 2021. (AP Photo/Bikas Das)

In a massive show of strength, the CPM-led Left Front, the Congress and Muslim cleric Abbas Siddiqui’s Indian Secular Front (ISF) held a rally at Kolkata’s iconic Brigade Parade Ground on February 28 to announce their alliance — ‘Sanjukta Morcha’ (United Front). The move has paved the way for a three-cornered contest in the West Bengal Assembly polls, and could divide the opposition vote in the state and benefit the TMC.

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The alliance is being seen as a shot in the arm for the Congress-Left alliance, which got only 13% of the votes and two seats in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. With the ISF’s support, the parties hope to win back some of the lost ground.

By joining hands with the ISF, the Left is trying to win the confidence and support of the Muslim community, which will strengthen its organisation and help the party win more seats. In Bengal, Muslims have so far aligned with the ruling Trinamool Congress, mainly because of steps taken by Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee for the upliftment of the community. However, a section of the community has been unhappy with the ruling party and believes the TMC considers them a vote bank. Looking to cash in on this sentiment, the ISF decided to forge ties with the Left Front, which during its 34-year rule in Bengal had the community’s support.

While the Congress has support of Muslims in Murshidabad, Malda and North Dinajpur districts, it has struggled to get the community’s vote in the southern parts of the state. The party hopes to change that with the ISF’s support. However, with the Congress unwilling to give up some of the seats that the ISF is eyeing, the dynamics between the two parties could change in the future.

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