Waquar Hasan l Caravan Daily
NEW DELHI – Welfare Party of India is going to contest in three seats across the country in the Lok Sabha elections. Qasim Rasool Ilyas from West Bengal’s Jangipur, I Ahmed from Vishakhapatnam, Dhananjoy Barman from Cooch Behar are the candidates of the party. Ilyas, who is the national president of the party, has managed to get the support from local workers of All India Muslim Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen in Jangipur.
In February, the party had announced to field 15-20 candidates, however, it is contesting from only three seats, fearing that it could lead to the division of secular votes. In its earlier announcement, the party had said that it was ready to get into an alliance with secular parties. “The reason we are engaging less because we want minimum division of secular votes at national level. So that Secular forces become powerful than the BJP,” said Ilyas while talking to Caravan Daily.
However, he maintained that in Jangipur, which has about 65 per cent Muslim population, his fight is against TMC candidate Khalilurrahman, a businessman who is contesting elections for the first time.
Talking about the MIM support, he said, “We got local support from MIM here but not a national level. There is no official existence of MIM in the constituency. There are some youth who called themselves MIM workers. They have declared their support to me,” said Ilyas.
Senior Congress leader and former President of India Pranab Mukherjee’s son Abhijit Mukherjee is sitting MP from the constituency. He was elected MP from there after Pranab became the President of India. The region is said to be highly backward as there is a complete lack of developmental work. The area lacks schools, hospitals and other basic facilities.
“This constituency is highly backward. The biggest issue that the people from the area are facing is employment as there is no industry in the region. There is no big business group. People are mostly involved in the bidi manufacturing or they go to Kerala and Punjab to work as migrant labours. Those who work in bidi manufacturing units are paid extremely low. Mostly children and women are employed in this trade. And there is a TB patient in each and every home. There is no good hospital and primary health centers,” said Ilyas.
Ilyas held West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee responsible for the lack of basic facilities and discrimination against Jangipur which falls under Murshidabad district. The constituency has 6 MLAs from Mamata’s party TMC out of 7 assembly seats. He also raised the issue of starvation deaths. He said every year the region witnesses starvation death.
“This region of Bengal has been ruled by the Congress for 30 years and for 34 years by the left parties. And TMC has been ruling for 7 years. But the condition is extremely bad. They have been taking votes but have not been working for development,” said Ilyas.
Former President Pranab Mukherjee was Member of Parliament from Jangipur from 2004 to 2012 till he became the President of India.