Amit Shah rally cancellation upsets Matua community

Shah rescheduled his two-day visit to Bengal following the low-intensity blast near Israeli Embassy

Upset with the rescheduling of Union Home Minister Amit Shah’s rally at Thakurnagar in West Bengal’s North 24 Parganas rally, a section of people of the Matua community on Saturday gathered outside the residence of BJP MP Sanatanu Thakur and raised slogans in protest. The BJP leadership tried damage-control by sending two senior leaders- party’s vice president Mukul Roy and national general secretary Kailash Vijayvargiya to the residence of Mr. Thakur. The BJP leaders promised that Home Minister would soon hold a public gathering from the very same place he was supposed to.

Mr. Shah rescheduled his two-day visit to the State late on Saturday evening following the low-intensity blast near the Israeli Embassy.

Mr. Santanu Thankur, MP from Bongaon, is a descendent of Harichand Thakur and Guruchand Thakur, the religious leaders who founded the Matua sect, mainly comprising Hindu refugees from Bangladesh also referred as “namashudras”. The Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA) is an emotive issue for the Matua community, who are pressing for the implementation of the contentious legislation as it would assure citizenship to all its members who have come from Bangladesh. Anticipating an assurance from the Home Minister on the issue, representatives of the community had arrived in Thakurnagar by Friday evening.

Senior BJP leadership, including Mr. Shah and party president J P Nadda have assured the implementation of the CAA but have shied away putting any time frame. Party leaders have said the CAA would be implemented once vaccination against COVID-19 is completed.

Balancing act

According to political observers, the BJP is doing a balancing act as far as the implementation of the CAA is concerned. It has assured the Matuas that the CAA will be implemented but not pressing it ahead of the 2021 Assembly polls as it would alienate the minorities and provide an important issue for the ruling Trinamool Congress to target it.

Before Mr. Roy and Mr. Vijayvargiya could arrive to the rescue of Mr. Thakur, Mamatabala Thakur, Trinamool Congress representative and former MP, took a swipe at the cancellation of the event. “The Home Minister did not come because he had nothing new to say to the representatives of the Matua community,” Ms. Thakur, who is an aunt of Mr. Santanu Thakur, said.

Senior BJP leaders said Mr. Shah had promised that he would hold a rally at the same venue whereone was scheduled on Saturday. He had also reportedly said the stage erected for the public rally should not be removed. “The Home Minister could not come because something that has international ramifications occurred. He has assured that he will address a rally here,” Mr. Roy said.

Senior Trinamool Congress leader Subrata Mukherjee said the Union government and the BJP have disappointed the Matuas. “Amit Shah was supposed to address everyone’s concerns about citizenship but has not done so. Parliament rules were supposed to be framed within six months for CAA. They asked for more time to make rules, leaving thousands of people in uncertainty. Now they are using COVID-19 as an excuse,” the TMC said in a press statement

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