New Delhi: Just months before the West Bengal Assembly elections, the BJP is once again going all out to woo the Matua community in the state which forms a substantial vote bank in at least 40 Vidhan Sabha constituencies in Bengal.
Union Home Minister Amit Shah is likely to visit the headquarter of the Matua community in Bongaon on January 30 to placate the community leaders who were for some time upset with the BJP for not being able to fulfil the promise of granting them citizenship despite passing the Citizenship Amendment Act in the Parliament last year.
Sources in the BJP have said that Amit Shah will visit the Matua headquarter temple in Thakurnagar, Bongaon, on 30 January where he will pray at the temple, have lunch at BJP MP Shantanu Thakur’s house and then later address a mega rally in the area, assuring the community that they will be given formal citizenship of India very soon.
Permanent citizenship had been a long-standing demand of the Matuas who are classified as Scheduled Caste. The people from the community are locally known as Namashudras or lower caste Hindu refugees who have migrated to India from neighbouring Bangladesh due to religious persecution. The Matuas who had overwhelmingly voted for the BJP in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, had been turning their back towards the BJP and had been organising massive rallies in the state under the banner of Matua Mahasangha, which is headed by BJP MP from Bongaon, Shantanu Thakur. Thakur had repeatedly said that the Central government should act on its promise of granting permanent citizenship to the Matua community as the community members were getting restless over the delay which might hurt the BJP electorally in the coming polls.
The Matua community members and leaders of the Matua community have structurally organised themselves in the last one year.
The members of the community have created organisational structure for themselves on the lines of a political party. The Matua Mahasangha which is headed by BJP MP Shantanu Thakur has created district committees in the districts the community is influential. Each district committee also has a president, a general secretary and booth presidents who are entrusted with the job of ensuring that the Matuas vote in a particular pattern and members of the community are in regular touch with the district and block level leaders of the community for any help they would require.
The Matua community is concentrated mostly in the North and South 24 parganas of West Bengal, with also some scattered population in districts such as Cooch Behar, Uttar Dinajpur, Malda and Nadia. The community holds sway over around 40 Assembly constituencies in Bengal, most of which are again concentrated in the North and South 24 parganas. Out of these 40 Assembly constituencies, in the last 2019 Lok Sabha elections, the BJP was leading in at least 26 of these constituencies.
Keeping in view the importance of the community, the BJP has already started to meet the demands put forth by the Matua leaders, one such being that of creating a separate organisational district of Bongaon in the North 24 Parganas district, which has one of the highest numbers of Matua population in the state.
The Bongaon district was carved out of the Barasat organisational district of the BJP last week.