Indian Secular Front poses a tough challenge to ruling Trinamool in Bhangar

ISF MLA Naushad Siddique says his party is ready to withdraw panchayat candidates from Bhangar for the sake of peace if the Trinamool Congress is willing to come to the discussion table

June 19, 2023 09:40 pm | Updated September 29, 2023 12:10 pm IST - Kolkata

Bhangar witnessed unprecedented violence on June 15, the last day of filing nomination papers for the panchayat polls and three persons, including two Trinamool supporters and one ISF worker, were killed. File

Bhangar witnessed unprecedented violence on June 15, the last day of filing nomination papers for the panchayat polls and three persons, including two Trinamool supporters and one ISF worker, were killed. File | Photo Credit: PTI

The Indian Secular Front (ISF), a two-year-old political outfit, is posing a tough resistance to the Trinamool Congress in Bhangar despite the ruling party’s dominance across the political landscape in West Bengal. ISF leader and Bhangar MLA Naushad Siddique on Monday sprang a surprise when he said the ISF was ready to withdraw candidates from Bhangar panchayat polls for the sake of peace if the Trinamool Congress was willing to come to the discussion table.

The proposal by the ISF MLA irked the ruling party and the Trinamool spokesperson accused Mr. Siddique of working at the behest of the BJP. The ISF MLA has also approached the Calcutta High Court seeking security, alleging that there was a threat to his life.

Also Read | West Bengal Governor sets up control room for panchayat poll grievances

Bhangar witnessed unprecedented violence on June 15, the last day of filing nomination papers for the panchayat polls and three persons, including two Trinamool supporters and one ISF worker, were killed. Prior to the violence on June 15, Mr. Siddique had tried speaking to Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee at the State Secretariat but did not get any audience with her.

On Monday, when the details of the nominations of Bhangar II block emerged, the ISF had filed nominations for 170 seats at gram panchayat level, compared to 314 by the Trinamool Congress and 48 by the Communist Party of India (Marxist).

Bhangar, located in the north eastern fringes of Kolkata in South 24 Parganas district, is a constituency where about 70% voters are from the minority community. The ISF won the seat in the 2021 Assembly polls and it was the only seat which the Left, Congress and the ISF alliance won in the last Assembly polls.

Switched to Trinamool

Earlier this year, in March, the Left Front-supported Congress candidate from Sagardighi Assembly seat in Murshidabad defeated the Trinamool Congress candidate. Byrom Biswas, the Sagardighi MLA switched to the Trinamool three months after being elected. The State’s ruling party claimed that by the defection they had outdid their defeat at Sagardighi. However, the ISF is posing a tough challenge for the ruling party in Bhangar which has a similar demography like Sagardighi.

Over the past few days, Trinamool spokespersons have repeatedly targeted the ISF and alleged that they were working at the behest of the BJP. On June 17, the Trinamool Congress from its official handle shared a screenshot of conversation between Mr. Naushad Siddique and BJP leader Kaliash Vijayvargiya  during the 2021 Assembly polls.

“The screenshots shared on social media present compelling evidence of the collaboration between the ISF and the @BJP4Bengal. We strongly urge the ISF to authenticate the validity of the screenshots that were relayed from Nawsad (Naushad) Siddiqui to Kailash Vijayvargiya concerning the replacement of police officials during the 2021 Assembly elections,” the Trinamool Congress had tweeted.

During the day, the police arrested seven persons in connection with the murder of Trinamool supporters in Bhangar on June 15. However, Mr. Siddique pointed out that no arrest was made in the murder of ISF supporter in Bhangar on the same day when Trinamool supporters were killed. The ISF was set up by Peerzada (religious leader) Abbas Siddique from Furfura shareef, a prominent religious shrine in Hooghly district, and Mr. Naushad Siddique is his younger brother.  

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