Why PM Modi’s Bangladesh visit is linked to Bengal Assembly polls

To commemorate the fiftieth anniversary of Bangladesh’s Independence, Prime Minister Narendra Modi lands in Dhaka on March 26, a day after campaigning for the primary part of West Bengal Assembly election ends. He is scheduled to visit Matua temple at Orakandi, round 200 km from Dhaka on March 27, when Bengal votes within the first of the eight phases of meeting polls.

PM Modi can pay respect to Matua sect founder Harichand Thakur, who was born at Orakandi in united Bengal in 1812. Harichand Thakur is thought of an incarnation of god by the Mutua neighborhood.

Matua: Bangladesh’s Bengal Connection

Harichand Thakur established the sect as a social reform in accordance equality to Namasudras (who had been thought of untouchables). The sect was later popularised and managed by his son Guruchand Thakur throughout Bengal.

Matuas are at the moment organised underneath the Matua Mahasangh, which may affect electoral final result in round 30 constituencies in Bengal election, and vital voters in about 70 meeting segments.

Their quantity is not precisely recognized with completely different estimates placing their inhabitants to up to 3 crore. But they actually comprise 1 crore of the roughly 7 crore voters within the upcoming West Bengal Assembly election.

Harichand Thakur stays probably the most revered determine for the Matua neighborhood in West Bengal. PM Modi’s visit to his temple and birthplace could have a direct bearing on how the neighborhood votes in Bengal election.

After partition Harichand-Guruchand descendent Pramatha Ranjan Thakur and his spouse Binapani Devi organised Matuas in West Bengal underneath Matua Mahasangh’s umbrella.

Bongaoan MP Shantanu Thakur — a household scion — will likely be at Orakandi accompanying PM Modi. He is the Matua face within the BJP.

Matua Voters In Bengal

Following the partition of India, numerous Matuas migrated from Bangladesh (then East Pakistan). The neighborhood has numerous refugees who’re but to be given Indian citizenship.

They are unfold throughout the Bengal districts of North 24 Paraganas, South 24 Paraganas, Nadia, Jalpaiguri, Siliguri, Cooch Behar and Bardhaman.

Matua And CAA

The Matua neighborhood leaders have been demanding citizenship for these Bangladeshi refugees. The Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) was handed by Parliament months after the BJP reached out to them within the run up to the 2019 Lok Sabha election promising to grant them citizenship.

The CAA offers for speedier citizenship to non-Muslim refugees or unlawful immigrants from Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan. The neighborhood supported the BJP within the 2019 Lok Sabha polls in Bengal.

Recently in February, Union Home Minister Amit Shah, whereas addressing BJP’s election rally at Thakurnagar in Bengal, mentioned, “Once the Covid-19 vaccination process ends, the process of granting citizenship under the CAA will begin. All of you [Matua community] will be respected citizens of this country.”

Thakurnagar in North 24 Paraganas district is a bastion of the Matua neighborhood.

Mamata And Matua Vote Bank

For lengthy, caste was not a vote financial institution in Bengal elections. Mamata Banerjee, main the Trinamool Congress marketing campaign in 2000s, reached out to the Matua neighborhood as she eyed to breach the Bengal fort of the Left Front. Matua Mahasangh grew to become politically energetic.

The Matua Mahasangh was energetic earlier as nicely however a separate vote financial institution identification was not distinguished. Pramatha Ranjan Thakur was a Congress MP. But his spouse Binapani Devi supported Mamata Banerjee in her marketing campaign towards the Left rule in Bengal.

Mamata Banerjee visited Binapani Devi at her house to search help for the 2011 Bengal Assembly polls. She fielded Binapani Devi’s her second son Manjul Krishna Thakur within the 2011 Bengal Assembly election and elder son Kapil Krishna Thakur within the 2014 Lok Sabha election.

Matuas Move To BJP

Post-2014 Lok Sabha polls, Matua matriarch Binapani Devi’s household noticed a political break up. Kapil Krishna Thakur died 5 months after being elected to the Lok Sabha. The TMC fielded his spouse Mamata Bala Thakur within the Lok Sabha by-election.

In response, Manjul Krishna Thakur converted to the BJP in 2015. His son Shantanu Thakur led agitations in Kolkata demanding citizenship for the Namasudra-Matua refugees.

It grew to become an even bigger challenge after PM Modi met Binapani Devi in February 2019 and spoke in favour of citizenship for Matua refugees.

The BJP fielded Shantanu Thakur from Bongaon, a constituency reserved for SC candidates. He defeated Mamata Bala Thakur in 2019.

TMC-BJP Tussle For Matua Votes

In December 2019, the CAA was enacted. It created one other constructive wave for the BJP amongst Matua neighborhood. But subsequent improvement associated to preparation of the National Register of Citizens (NRC) in Assam has created a doubt about their Indian citizenship ‘guarantee’. Around 19 lakh individuals, majority being Hindus, had been overlooked of the Assam NRC that was ready underneath the supervision of the Supreme Court.

On the opposite hand, Mamata Banerjee renewed her efforts to attain out to Matuas. She introduced organising of a Matua Development Board and a Namashudra Bikash Parishad. She additionally assured the Matua neighborhood a state vacation in honour of Harichand Thakur on his beginning anniversary, March 11.

The BJP scrambled to counter Mamata Banerjee’s transfer. Amit Shah had lunch on the house of a Matua refugee in Bengal. And, now PM Modi is paying respect to Matua sect founder Harichand Thakur at his birthplace throughout his Bangladesh visit.

ALSO READ: Bangladesh all set to welcome PM Modi for Golden Jubilee celebrations

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