Updated: March 17, 2021 11:44:20 am
The much-watched Indian Secular Front (ISF), part of the Left-Congress alliance in West Bengal, has surprised everyone with its first list of 21 candidates. As the BJP and Trinamool attack the party as “communal”, the ISF led by cleric Abbas Siddiqui, fielded names from across religions and castes, including upper-caste Hindus, Dalits and tribals.
While the Left has given the ISF 30 seats, Congress has agreed to share at least seven of the 15 it has sought.
A senior leader of the ISF said, “With our list we are saying that we are not communal. We are fighting for all backward people and our candidates list reflects that. We will maintain that.”
The ISF has fielded Milan Mandi from Raipur (ST), Bikram Chatterjee from Mahisadal, Goranga Das from Chadrakona (SC), Sirajudin Ghazi from Kulpi, Dr Sanchay Sarkar from Mandir Bazar (SC), Advocate Sk Shabbir Ahmed from Jagatballavpur, Simol Soren from Haripal, Faisal Khan from Khanakul, Nuruzzam- an from Metiabruz, Md Jalil from Panchla, Abbasuddin Khan from Uluberia (Purbo), Dinesh Chandra Biswas from Ranaghat Uttar Purbo (SC), Anup Mondal from Krishnaganj (SC), Pirzada Baijid Amin from Basirhat Uttar, Barun Mahato from Sandesh Khali (ST), Kanchan Maitra from Chapra, Tapas Chakraborty from Ashoknagar, Jamaluddin from Amdanga, Md Mustaqim from Asansol (Uttar) and Professor Md Iqbal Alam from Entally.
On Monday night, the ISF announced an additional name: Siddiqui’s younger brother Naushad Siddiqui, from Bhangor.
Facing questions about its “secular” credentials after tying up with the ISF, the Left Front said the list showed it was indeed a secular front. A CPM leader, refusing to be named, said, “From the very first day, we have been saying that the ISF is not communal. They are fighting for the rights of the common man and backward classes.”
In an apparent reference to Mamata Banerjee’s recital of the Chandi Path in Nandigram, he added, “When a leader of the political party chants Hindu mantras on stage, when leaders go to temples, mazaars to impress a community, that is not communal?”
Floating the ISF in January, Siddiqui had said, “We will fight for justice for minorities, Dalits and Adivasis. We will snatch their rights (from the government).”
Reacting to the ISF list, the Trinamool’s Firhad Hakim said, “The problem is not whom they are giving tickets to. It is harmful for a secular democracy when religious gurus start doing politics.”
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