Kolkata: In West Bengal, the Trinamool Congress (TMC) is playing all its cards - be it wooing industries or cashing in on Mamata's painting talents - to beat the Left out of power. But there could be some other factor that could go their way.
Manjul Krishna Thakur is no ordinary mortal in the eyes of local residents. This Trinamool Congress candidate leads the Matua sect, an offshoot of a Hindu scheduled caste community. With arguably two crore followers, Matuas had long been wooed by political parties until Mamata Banerjee succeeded in roping in Thakur.
"We have spread the message of hope through religion. Now I want to take that even further through politics," said TMC candidate from Gaighata Manjul Krishna Thakur.
Manjul Thakur's mother, 92-year old Binapani Devi and head of the sect believes it's time to mix religion and politics. The Railway minister has already ushered in civic developments in Thakurnagar, the Matua headquarters and the Left followed suit by promising to set up a college on this plot. Binapani advocates change but isn't sure of its outcome.
"A change is surely required. How can a single system perpetuate? But it's difficult to assess how far that change would be effective," said Matua Mahasangha chief Binapani Devi.
It's not just the Matuas who have been lured by the political establishment of the state, the Huzurs of Furfura Sharif in Hooghly who represent a significant majority of Muslims in West Bengal are also in focus of political parties across the board.
The most prominent Huzur leader Toha Siddiqui, says he's apolitical but doesn't hide his disillusionment with the 35-year long Left rule in Bengal. But he was also critical about Banerjee for not delivering rail connectivity to Furfura Sharif despite a promise a year ago.
"If Trinamool comes to power and repeats the character of the Left parties, then I'm sure people will take no time to reject the Trinamool as well," said Toha Siddiqui.
For both the Huzurs and the Thakurs, involvement with politics means local convenience. For the political parties, the blessings of community heads mean assured votes. But both are aware that the knots that tie the two sides can snap at the slightest provocation.