Kolkata: Shantanu Thakur, BJP MP from Bengal’s Bongaon, has asked Union Home Minister Amit Shah to clarify Centre’s stand on the implementation of Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) in the state.
Thakur, who won the Bongaon seat while riding the wave of ‘BJP’s citizenship promise’ to the Matua community, is now in an odd situation over the delay in the implementation of CAA in Bengal.
“I personally think Union Home Minister should clarify central government’s stand on the CAA which is directly connected with the sentiments of the Matua community. I think it is certainly going to have some impact in the coming polls,” he said.
Thakur’s reaction came days after Shah, during his Bengal visit, had said, “The Act has been passed. We are committed to implementing it. The entire process got delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic. The rules of the CAA are yet to be framed. I would like to assure all that we will certainly implement it. First, let’s get over with this pandemic and the vaccination process.”
It was learnt that state BJP president Dilip Ghosh met Shantanu Thakur on Monday night and requested him not to make any statement that would go against party lines. The meeting was held in a hotel located at Eastern Metropolitan Bypass.
Thakur, who is also the joint president of the All India Matua Mahasangha, has been missing from the political meetings of the BJP in recent months.
In 2019 Lok Sabha, besides winning the confidence of Matua community, the BJP has also managed to capitalise on the Left Front’s vote share which helped Shantanu Thakur to elbow Trinamool Congress’ heavyweight candidate Mamata Thakur. Then, Shantanu Thakur defeated Mamata by nearly 96,000 votes.
Located nearly 70km from Kolkata, Thakurnagar in North 24-Parganas district, is the headquarters of the ‘Matua Mahasangha’, a religious reformation movement that was led by the late Harichand Thakur. In this part of Bengal, it’s not Mamata, but ‘Matuas’ who call the shots.
Thakurnagar is named after Harichand’s great-grandson, late Pramath Ranjan Thakur, and falls under the Bangaon Lok Sabha constituency where Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressed a gathering on February 2, 2019.
With nearly 65-67 per cent Matua voters, Bangaon is one of the 42 Lok Sabha seats in Bengal which BJP managed to secure by winning over the confidence of Thakur matriarch Binapani Devi Thakur, popularly known as ‘Boroma’ (elder mother).
Boroma, the widow of Pramath Ranjan Thakur, had a huge sway over the Namashudra (Dalit) community, which migrated in large numbers from Bangladesh, then East Pakistan, after Partition. She passed away a few weeks after Prime Minister Narendra Modi met her in Thakurnagar in February 2019.
The Matua community was a key force behind Mamata Banerjee’s triumph over the 34-year-old Left-Front government in the 2011 assembly election.
Since then, the Trinamool Congress has had Boroma’s blessings — both during the 2014 Lok Sabha polls and 2016 Assembly elections.
However, during 2019 Lok Sabha elections, the shift of the Left vote and rift among Matuas created a favourable situation for the saffron party due its CAA card.
But since the process of CAA has been delayed due to COVID-19, TMC is once again gaining its ground in the Matua dominated Assembly seats (nearly 44 seats) in Bengal and this could be a big trouble for the saffron brigade.