The Legislative Assembly election in West Bengal is proving to be the most awaited political event of 2021. The Battle Royale between Political outfits is fierce,toprovide a better understanding of how each party is being perceived or revered in Dakshin Dinajpur, a district-wide opinion poll was conductedby the EtG Research Team &after extrapolating the results of the opinion poll, it is inferred that the BJP will witness a significant rise and can probably win on a good number of seats given the party fields a local candidate and increases camaraderie with locals.
Dakshin Dinajpur, traditionally a bastion of the left and the INC comprises of two subdivisions: Balurghat and Gangarampurpur.
Balurghat subdivision consists of Balurghat municipality and four community development blocks: Hili, Balurghat, Kumarganj and Tapan.
Gangarampur subdivision consists of Gangarampur, Buniadpur municipalities and four community development blocks: Gangarampur, Bansihari, Harirampur and Kushmandi.
Tapan constituency is reserved for Scheduled Tribes (ST) candidates. Kushmandi and Gangarampur constituency is reserved for Scheduled Castes (SC) candidates.Along with one assembly constituency from the North Dinajpur district, the six assembly constituencies of this district form the Balurghat (Lok Sabha constituency), which is reserved for SC candidates.
[Also Read: EtG Opinion Poll in West Bengal Alipurduar Dist]
The district has been under much surveillance due to the porous boundary on its east, which aligns with Bangladesh, the Muslims make up to 25% of the population. In 2016, out of 6 Assembly Constituencies (ACs),AITC won in 2,RSP won in 2 while INC and CPM had won one each.In2019, AITC and BJP won 3 ACs each.AITC was able to retain its hold over the Muslim-dominated ACs whereas BJP bagged the seats where mostly the non-Muslims dwelled.
In this district, the major rise in BJP’s vote share was due to the AITC supporters voting for BJP because PM Modi was a major factor in the 2019 elections. Currently, the district is facing political turmoil because most of the party leaders and MLAs from the left, INC and AITC have joined BJP which has given a major blow to the credibility of AITC.
Moreover, the reason is the BJP’s enormous success in 2019, when it picked up seven of the 18 seats it won in West Bengal from the North Bengal districts, including Raiganj in Uttar Dinajpur, Maldah (North) in Maldah, Balurghat in Dakshin Dinajpur – all places with heavy concentrations of Muslim voters.
Here, what makes ISF an entirely new factor in the politically, socially, and communally polarised politics that it is playing out between the BJP on the one side and the Trinamool Congress-Left on the other is its direct appeal to the Muslim voter. Peerzada Abbas Siddique is a fourth-generation descendant of the Sufi saint. He will be the first of the clerics to float a political party. Toha Siddique, his higher-ranking uncle, had endorsed Mamata in the 2011 assembly elections but never formally joined politics. The shrine is believed to hold command over Muslims in Howrah, Hooghly, South 24 Pargana, North 24 Pargana and Dinajpur districts in the state.
The political dynamics of Furfura Sharif are complex as the Siddique family has been engaged in a power struggle over the property, this has had an impact on their followers. Though ISF hasnot fielded candidates in any of the six constituencies of the district but the overarching influence within the alliance and the Muslim population might prove to bedetrimental for AITC.
So, how much will the religious submission of the followers get translated into the votes is a major question which can determine BJP’s win and AITC’s hurdle in the region. Abbas Siddiqui, the founder of the Indian Secular Front, has said that the ISF will field candidates in 50 to 60 seats, mostly in the south and central Bengal, while its ally, the AIMIM, will contest in another 50 seats in pockets of south Bengal and in north Bengal. Siddiqui is hoping to poach in nine other organizations that represent the tribals, Dalits, Muslims and Matuas apparently.
Venturing into the preference of the respective communities, the opinion poll suggests that Muslims are strongly inclined to AITC, SC’s are split between the BJP and AITC while ST’s mostly lean towards BJP and a few toward AITC.
[Also Read: EtG Opinion Poll in West Bengal Nadia Dist]