KOLKATA: Reacting to Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee’s reference to 'minority extremism', All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Musalmeen (AIMIM) chief Asaduddin Owaisi said on Tuesday that it is not religious extremism to say that Bengal’s Muslims have one of the worst human development indicators.
Making her first reference to 'minority extremism' without naming Owaisi or the AIMIM, Mamata, while addressing a gathering of party workers in Cooch Behar on Monday, said, "Just like there are some extremists in Hindus, it's the same with minorities. There is a political party. They take money from BJP. They stay in Hyderabad. They don’t stay here. They come and say I will give you protection. My minority brothers, don’t fall into this trap. Just like my Hindu brothers who don’t bow in front of Hindu extremism."
Mamata’s attack on Owaisi came after an AIMIM spokesperson made a statement saying, "Bengal’s Muslims have one of the worst human development indicators of any minority."
Hitting back at the Bengal chief minister, Owaisi tweeted, "It is not religious extremism to say that Bengal’s Muslims have one of the worst human development indicators of any minority. If Didi is worried about a bunch of us 'from Hyderabad' then she should tell us how BJP won 18/42 LS seats from Bengal."
Mamata’s attack on the AIMIM chief follows Owaisi’s attempt to expand his party’s footprint outside Telangana and Andhra Pradesh. His party recently won an assembly bypoll in Kishangunj in Bihar. The seat with a high concentration of minority voters is located along the border with Bengal.
"Sensing Owaisi’s attempt to sneak into Bengal, the chief minister has become aggressive and hit out at him because the assembly segments near the Bengal-Bihar border in North Dinajpur district have a high concentration of Muslims," said a Trinamool leader.
Mamata’s statement on 'minority extremism' came after she visited a temple and a religious fair in Cooch Behar. Political observers in Bengal said the statement shortly after her temple visit is an indication that she is desperate to win over Hindu votes, both Bengali and Rajbanshi, who form 55% of the population of the district.