Many opposition parties have declared that they are opposed to the CAA and NRC in the country but they are unwilling to come together on a common platform in organizing an integrated protest.
Congress President Sonia Gandhi convened a meeting of all opposition parties to strategize the protest against the CAA on Jan 13, 2020, but it was attended by only 20 parties while prominent parties like the Trinamool Congress, Samajwadi Party, BSP, TDP, DMK and Aam Admi Party avoided the meeting due to their individual egos, lack of common interest and personality clashes.
Mamata stayed away because she does not want to confuse Muslim voters in Bengal where she is fighting against both the CPM and the Congress. Working with CPM and Congress would mean sharing Muslim votes, which she has cultivated hard in the past decade.
She started her journey as the chief minister riding on two major planks: anti-leftism and Muslim-appeasement politics. Even the Calcutta High Court, while hearing a public interest litigation petition stated: “There has been a clear endeavour on the part of the State government to pamper and appease the minority section of the public at the cost of the majority section without there being any plausible justification.”
Unperturbed about charges of minority appeasement, in a public meeting on May 26, 2019, Mamata Banarjee declared that she would not desist from standing by and reassuring the minorities. If the BJP brands it “appeasement”, so be it. “I appease Muslims…. Will do it 100 times as there is no harm in taking kicks from a cow that gives you milk.”
Mamata Banerjee continued to pamper the ulemas by introducing monthly allowance for the imams and muezzins in the state. Mamata’s gestures towards Muslims helped her reap electoral dividends in successive elections.
Mamata Banerjee is opposing the contentious legislation tooth and nail. “We will not implement the CAA. This is unconstitutional, illegal and wrong,” Banerjee said. Muslims accounted for nearly 30 percent of the total voters in West Bengal and Mamata Banarjee is trying to utilize the religious divide created by the CAA for her own vote bank politics. With several of the marches being led by herself, the TMC supremo has shown a willingness to make CAA-NRC the biggest issue of the 2021 Assembly election.
But some obstruction has come in the way of her long term strategy adding fuel to fire. Recently few Muslims, including college students and teachers, have started campaigning against the poor development to their community in the state and government’s appeasement policies. They are issuing pamphlets in Bangla highlighting what Owaisi is doing in Hyderabad. They claim that a community that stood by Mamata in elections is now being ignored.
She is worried because Muslims in Bengal are now drifting away from her, while the AIMIM is forming a strong base in the state and this is an alarming signal to her. In recent public meetings, Owaisi declared that he will contest coming assembly elections in the state.
Mamata’s fear that they might cut into her Muslim vote bank has forced her to come out in open against the ‘Hyderabad-based’ group. In a veiled reference to AIMIM Chief Asaduddin Owaisi, Mamata Banerjee Monday Nov 18, 2019, warned TMC workers against falling for the claims of “some extremists among minorities” from Hyderabad.