Ahead of the Assembly elections in West Bengal, Pirzada Abbas Siddiqui, the 34-year-old cleric of Furfura Sharif in Hooghly district, on Thursday launched a new political party — Indian Secular Front – and said that his party plans to contest all the 294 seats in the state with alliance partners.

His 26-year-old brother Nausad Siddiqui has been named chairman of the new party and Simul Soren the president of the party’s working committee.

“We announced our party today. Now, we will sit for talks with other parties, including AIMIM (of Asaduddin Owaisi), and then we will make clear on how many seats we will contest in this election. For now, we are considering to contest all the 294 seats,” Abbas Siddiqui told mediapersons at a press conference in Kolkata.

Stating that his “doors are open” for an alliance with the Left Front and the Congress, Siddiqui said: “CPI(M) and Congress leaders have sent feelers to us. Both the parties suggested that we first launch our political platform. Let us wait and see.”

“The party will start working from Republic Day. Thereafter, we will announce further programmes. We also plan to hold rallies including one in brigade parade ground,” he added.

He, however, ruled out contesting the elections, saying that he would like to be the “kingmaker”.

“I want to be the kingmaker. I will not contest the election but will do everything possible for the party. We will work for the betterment of Muslims, Dalits, tribals, and the poor. Our party is for all,” said Siddiqui, one of the descendants of Pir Abu Baqar Siddiqui.

Rejecting the charge that his party would enable the division of Muslim votes in the state, Siddiqui said, “So many political parties are there. Many like AAP are coming to Bengal. Some of them will get Hindu or Muslim votes. Why do you say that our party will divide Muslim votes.”


Why Pirzada’s entry upends the race

Accusing Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee of failing to deliver, Siddiqui blamed the Trinamool Congress for “allowing BJP to get into Bengal”

“We supported her and she came to power in Bengal. But then her government failed to deliver. So many unemployed youths are in Bengal. It was TMC which facilitated communal discord and allowed BJP to come here. BJP is enemy of the country,” Siddiqui added.

Furfura Sharif is the second most prominent Sufi mazar or shrine in the country after Ajmer Sharif in Rajasthan.


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