File photo: Union home minister Amit Shah.(PTI)
File photo: Union home minister Amit Shah.(PTI)

TMC’s to send crack team to secure Matua votes ahead of Shah’s Bengal visit

  • For the Matua community, permanent citizenship is a longstanding demand.
By Joydeep Thakur, Kolkata
UPDATED ON JAN 15, 2021 09:43 PM IST

The ruling Trinamool Congress in West Bengal will send a crack team, comprising party veterans and ministers, to try and secure the Matua vote-bank - a Dalit community - ahead of Union home minister Amit Shah’s visit to poll-bound state.

While Shah is expected to camp in West Bengal in January-end and is likely to hold a rally at Thakurnagar, headquarters of the Hindu minority community Matuas on January 30, the TMC is planning to send its special team on January 22.

The TMC team, comprising party MP Saugata Roy, state minister Bratya Basu and Jyotipriyo Mullick among others, would be visiting four assembly constituencies under the Bongaon Lok Sabha seat in North 24 Parganas where the Matuas are a deciding factor. These are seats reserved for the Scheduled Castes and have 80 per cent of more Matua population.

“A team has been formed. We will hold meetings with the Matuas in four assembly seats. We have a long-standing relationship with them. We will speak to their leaders and members of the Matua community,” said Mullick.

The Matua community is spread over at least 70 assembly seats in the state, comprising at least seven Lok Sabha constituencies. The community is the deciding factor in five assembly seats.

Also read: 'Seek approval before initiating action against poll officials' EC tells states

In the 2019 elections, the Matuas had extended their support to the BJP. Contesting on a BJP ticket, the sect’s young face, Shantanu Thakur, defeated his aunt, TMC’s Mamata Bala Thakur at, in the Bongaon seat.

For the Matua community, which hosted Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s first election campaign in Bengal before the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, permanent citizenship is a longstanding demand. But with the BJP going soft on the issue, Thakur had recently expressed his disappointment.

The TMC immediately stepped in with its overtures and Mullick went to the extent of inviting Shantanu Thakur to join the TMC. Later senior BJP leaders, however, stepped in to restrain Thakur from voicing his dissatisfaction.

“They (Matuas) have certain demands. Chief minister Mamata Banerjee has already met some of their demands. We also have some appeals to the community. But this should not be seen as a counter meeting just because Shah is coming. We have a long-standing relation and team will just revise and reactivate those bonds,” said Mullick.

This is however not the first time that Shah would be visiting the Matua stronghold. On November 6, he had lunch with a Matua family in North 24 Parganas. The BJP, however, downplayed the TMC’s outreach.

“Anyone can visit and do anything. But whatever needed to be done for the Matuas has been by Prime Minister Narendra Modi,” said Mukul Roy, BJP national vice president.

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