The com­mu­nity forms 17.74% of the pop­u­la­tion and can in­flu­ence votes.

The Sunday Guardian - - Nation -

With an eye on the 2019 Lok Sabha elec­tions, the Ben­gal unit of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is try­ing to woo the Matua com­mu­nity of Ben­gal that con­sti­tutes some 17.74% of the pop­u­la­tion and is con­cen­trated in the North 24 Par­ganas dis­trict.

Re­cently, Kailash Vi­jay­vargiya, BJP state ob­server, ad­dressed a huge rally or­gan­ised by the Matua com­mu­nity in North 24 Par­ganas dis­trict, in­di­cat­ing that this com­mu­nity, which has a strong­hold in the area, would be cru­cial for the party dur­ing the 2019 elec­tions.

A se­nior BJP state func­tionary from Ben­gal told this cor­re­spon­dent, “The Matua com­mu­nity is a very strong and well con­nected com­mu­nity in this re­gion (North 24 Par­ganas) of Ben­gal and they can in­flu­ence the vot­ing pat­tern in the re­gion. They are an­gry with the present dis­pen­sa­tion in the state and are look­ing for an al­ter­na­tive, and BJP is go­ing to pro­vide them the al­ter­na­tive.”

Ac­cord­ing to BJP sources in Ben­gal, the state unit of the BJP is also in touch with the leader of the com­mu­nity, “Boroma”, who re­sides in Thakur­na­gar, the head­quar­ters of the Matua com­mu­nity. Thakur­na­gar comes in the Bon­gaon Lok Sabha con­stituency, and this seat is cur­rently held by the TMC.

A BJP source said: “The party is in touch with Boroma; she is the one who is at the helm of af­fairs for this com­mu­nity and we are in talks with her for her sup­port for the party. Her sup­port for the party and that of her com­mu­nity would be very cru­cial, given that BJP is tar­get­ing 22 seats in the state for the Lok Sabha polls.”

The Matua com­mu­nity, which be­longs to the Sched­uled Castes, was tradi- tion­ally a vote bank of the CPM for a very long time. Then, Ma­mata Ban­er­jee tried to sway the com­mu­nity to­wards her and made Man­julkr­ishna Thakur her Cab­i­net min­is­ter in the Ben­gal govern­ment. Ban­er­jee had made Man­julkr­ishna’s brother Kapilkr­ishna Thakur a Mem­ber of Par­lia­ment from the Bon­gaon Lok Sabha seat, fol­low­ing which “Boroma” had made Ma­mata Ban­er­jee the chief pa­tron of the Matua Ma­hasabha.

How­ever, cur­rently the chief fam­ily mem­ber of the Matua com­mu­nity is in a feud, with some of the fam­ily mem­bers from the com­mu­nity, go­ing the way of Ma­mata Ban­er­jee, while some the BJP’s way.

Ac­cord­ing to some Matua com­mu­nity lead­ers, they are nei­ther happy with the present Tri­namool Congress govern­ment nor are they sat­is­fied with the BJP govern­ment at the Cen­tre.

A Matua leader, who did not wish to be named, told this cor­re­spon­dent, “The TMC had promised a whole lot of things for us, but noth­ing has ma­te­ri­alised. We were an op­pressed class and we still re­main the same. Only some are happy with Ma­mata Ban­er­jee be­cause their close ones have been made MPs and min­is­ters in the Ben­gal govern­ment.”

Some also voiced their con­cerns about the Na­tional Regis­trar of Cit­i­zens (NRC) that the BJP has been talk­ing of launch­ing in Ben­gal if they come to power.

Pri­mar­ily, this com­mu­nity of Sched­uled Castes had come over to In­dia from the erst­while East Pak­istan and set­tled in the bor­der­ing dis­tricts of North 24 Par­ganas and South 24 Par­ganas.

An­other Matua leader said: “We had mi­grated from Bangladesh to In­dia due to the op­pres­sion we faced there and now if the NRC hap­pens in Ben­gal, many would not have any ID cards since most of us are daily labour­ers and be­long to poor fam­i­lies.”

The Matua com­mu­nity also held a protest against the NRC in Ben­gal ear­lier when the first draft of the NRC was re­leased.

Kailash Vi­jay­vargiya ad­dresses a rally or­gan­ised by the Matua com­mu­nity in North 24 Par­ganas dis­trict.

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