Editor's Desk

Minorities in the new council of ministers

The results of the West Bengal assembly elections have manifested an important aspect of our democratic life. All the major political parties of the state had fielded Muslim candidates and a good number of them have emerged successful. According to the statistics, a total of 56 candidates have won the elections. These candidates belong to TMC, Congress and the Left. Of them 29 candidates belong to the ruling Trinamul. The Muslim population in West Bengal is close to 30 per cent. Going by this population, 56 is not proportionate to the total population of the Muslims. However, going by the low political representation of Muslims on the national level, this number is quite encouraging and to some extent satisfactory as 20 percent of Muslims got political representation where the national percentage is 4.2 with only 22 Muslim MPs in the current Lok Sabha, the lowest in the history of Indian Parliament. The per cent age of Muslim representation in West Bengal assembly is 20 with 56 MLAs belonging to the Muslim community. In this way, West Bengal has set a good precedence before the nation and national parties claiming to be secular and well wishers of the minorities.
Mamata Banerjee's Trinamul Congress has enjoyed the support of the majority of this 30 percent population and in return it has tried to assuage many of the problems facing this powerful community, In this elections too, the Muslim votes have saved many a candidate where they were initially losing. For instance, the Jorasanko candidate in Kolkata, Ms Smita Bakshi was pitched against the BJP state President Rahul Sinha. This is the constituency where the Vivekananda Flyover had collapsed. The BJP had made the flyover collapse a poll issue and at the initial stage he was leading over TMC candidate Ms Smita Bakshi. But once the EVMs of Zakaria Street and Raja Bazar, predominantly Muslim areas, were counted, Smita Bakshi took over a lead and finally won. Similarly, In Asansol, Moloy Ghatak, a Minister in Mamata Government owes his success to Muslim votes, a fact he himself acknowledges. Nevertheless, much has not been done to redress their grievances despite the best of intentions of the chief minister. This is due to the fact that Muslim MLAs are not entrusted with important responsibilities of the government. They are not considered capable of handling important portfolios like finance, home or industry. For example, Abdul Karim Choudhury was given Mass Education and Library Services and Javed Khan was given Fire and Emergency Services in the previous ministry.
However, four Muslim ministers are expected to be included in the new cabinet of ministers. Javed Khan may replace Firhad Hakim who figured in the Narada sting operation.. Siddiqullah Choudhury is likely to get Minority and Madrasa Affairs. In the previous ministry, Haider Aziz Safwi had been given the charge of ministry of Correctional Administration. He should be given some important responsibility.
It is time Mamata Banerjee realized the fact that only giving tickets to Muslim candidates is not enough for the all round development of this community. The community has demonstrated its faith in her and sent their representatives to the assembly. Now its her turn to honour their faith and trust. The elected candidates should be entrusted with important portfolios so that they can contribute to the success of the government and to the economic and social development of the state in a better way.