Modi’s B’desh visit can help swing Muslim voters towards BJP in Bengal polls

New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, at the Joint Press Statements, at Hyderabad House, in New Delhi on Oct 5, 2019. (Photo: IANS/PIB)

New Delhi, April 3 (RAHNUMA): Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s head turning two-day visit to Bangladesh could have far reaching implications on the ongoing West Bengal assembly elections. By wholeheartedly befriending the Muslim majority state of Bangladesh, the BJP should not be viewed from a communal lens.

Instead, the party was serious about delivering its promise of bringing change and non-partisan development under the slogan Sabka Saath Sabka Vikas.

“The idea is to give them the message that BJP is not anti-Muslim and that they need not fear,” an analyst said.

West Bengal has over 27 per cent Muslims in the state.

Political analyst Sajjan Kumar points out that though the visit may not change the voters’ mindset, it will allay fear of the minority community.

“The Muslim community has been a strong voter base of the TMC but at the same time, PM’s visit sends out a message that the Indian Muslims have nothing to fear in case the BJP comes to power,” Kumar said, adding that the BJP has also refrained from bringing up the issues of Citizenship Amendment Act and National Register of Citizens during the campaign.

But not just the Muslims, Modi’s visit to a temple in Orakandi located in Bangladesh’s Gopalganj district will also act as a balm and even woo the Matua community of the state.

The Matuas, primarily Namasudras, have traditionally been supporters of West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee and the incumbent Trinamool Congress. According to estimates, there are over 1.5 crore voters from this Matua community.

Will Modi’s visit have any direct impact on the voting pattern?

Kumar responded in the affirmative. He said that Modi’s visit to the temples including the one at Orakandi will go a long way in wooing the Matua community.

“Many of the Muslims living in West Bengal are originally from Bangladesh, so the visit does create a connect between the minorities and the BJP,” a resident of Kolkata said on condition of anonymity.

“Banerjee has always played the minority card which has led to polarisation in the state but now one can see counter-polarisation taking place,” Kumar added.

Another analyst also said that the violence that broke out in Bangladesh after Modi’s visit will also help in strengthening in counter polarisation. Banerjee’s appeasement policies to the minority community have irked many in the state.

“It is important for BJP to pass this message of Sabka Saath Sabka Vikas and that the party will not discriminate in terms of religion, but at the same time we will not follow a policy of appeasement with any community. It is one India but until now, policy was framed with the idea of minority appeasement, that will not be the case,” Gopal Krishna Agarwal, BJP spokesperson on economic affairs said.

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