Minorities, corruption to be key issues in Bengal

Minorities, corruption to be key issues in Bengal

Communist Party of India-Marxist politburo member Mohammad Salim files his nomination papers from Raiganj constituency ahead of the upcoming Lok Sabha polls, in North Dinajpur district, on Monday. PTI

West Bengal, one of the most politically significant states in the country, will witness a four-cornered contest in the Lok Sabha elections.

The state has witnessed severe political turbulence for the past few months mainly over issues concerning corruption, use of central and state agencies and conflicting claims made by the Trinamool Congress (TMC) and the BJP over the success of social welfare schemes by the state and central government.

The neglect of Muslim community has always been a key issue of major elections in Bengal and the Lok Sabha elections will be no exception. With about 28% Muslim population, no wonder the Trinamool does not miss a single opportunity to claim that their government has played a key role in the minority development in the state.

However, the BJP accuses the ruling party in the state of resorting to “appeasement politics” and claims that the Trinamool only exploits Muslims for vote-bank politics. Muslim voters, whose consolidated support has ensured Mamata Banerjee’s electoral dominance in Bengal, will be a bone of contention between the Trinamool and the BJP.

The Centre-state face-off in February over the CBI’s attempt to question the then Kolkata Police Commissioner Rajeev Kumar about the chit fund scam and ensuing dharna by Chief Minister Mamata made it evident that the alleged abuse of central agencies by the BJP against Opposition parties will be a major election issue in Bengal.

While the Trinamool will highlight the alleged violation of the federal structure by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the BJP will try to project it as the chief minister’s blatant support to corruption.

“We will highlight how the Trinamool government harassed CBI officers doing their duty. The way they are opposing and making false allegations against the central forces will also be a poll issue for us,” BJP state president Dilip Ghosh told DH.

Unemployment and lack of industrialisation will also be a poll issue. The Left Front will try once again to dub Mamata as “anti-industry” while the BJP will blame both the CPI (M) and Trinamool over the issue.

As for corruption, the Trinamool will face a three-pronged attack from the BJP, CPI (M) and the Congress. While the trio will seek to corner the Trinamool over the cases, such as the Saradha scam and the Narada sting operation, Mamta's party will retaliate with the alleged irregularities in the Rafael deal.

The plight of farmers due to the low price of crops and unemployment will be a key issue for major parties. Both Trinamool and BJP will claim that their respective governments at the state and Centre have ushered in prosperity for farmers.