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This is how BJP plans to pacify key Matua community at Amit Shah’s Bengal rally today

The Matua community, seen as a deciding factor in at least 30 to 35 assembly seats, is the key for BJP to breach Mamata Banerjee’s fortress — south Bengal.

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Kolkata: In a bid to placate the Matua community, the BJP is likely to take refuge in around 170-odd petitions that were filed before the Supreme Court over the last few months opposing the implementation of the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA).

The BJP plans to appease the resentment brewing among the Matuas, a Hindu minority community, by stating that the government will frame CAA rules as soon as the cases are settled in the court, senior party leaders told ThePrint.

Union Home Minister Amit Shah will also address a rally in Thakurnagar, the headquarters of the Matuas community, Thursday afternoon.

“Our government is committed to the cause and that is why we brought the Act,” BJP’s national general secretary Kailash Vijayvargiya told ThePrint. “The delay was caused by multiple reasons including court cases. The opponents, who do not want the people to get citizenship, filed around 168 cases in the Supreme Court opposing the implementation of CAA,” he added.

“It may take at least two to three months for the court to hear all the petitions. Once the cases are cleared, the government will frame rules, there is no going back on CAA,” he said.

Vijayvargiya and the BJP’s national vice-president Mukul Roy have visited Thakurnagar at least twice in the last few weeks to discuss the issue with Matua-Mahasangha members, the sect’s religious body.

The Matua community, seen as a deciding factor in at least 30 to 35 assembly seats in the upcoming elections, seems to be the key for the BJP to breach Mamata Banerjee’s fortress — south Bengal.

Also read: Why Mamata and BJP are battling over this little known Bengal minority community

Delay and dilemma over CAA

The BJP’s Bengal unit wanted Shah to address a rally in Thakurnagar in November. However, it was rescheduled for 30 January. During these two months, Bengal BJP MP Santanu Thakur faced the irate of the Matuas, who want the CAA to be implemented soon.

Thakur met Shah in December and briefed him about the resentment and simmering tension.

Meanwhile, Vijayvargiya and Roy were assigned with the task of addressing the concerns of the minority community. The leaders spoke to the community members and tried to convince them about the issues the government was facing since the lockdown.

However, tensions soared in Thakurnagar when Shah’s 30 January rallies were cancelled in view of the IED blast near Israeli embassy in Delhi.

The Matuas, who had gathered for Shah’s address near the Thakurbari, the Matua-Mahansangha’s headquarters in Thakurnagar, staged a protest and demanded that the home minister fix a time frame for the implementation of the CAA.

“There has been some confusion and anxiety among the Matuas as the CAA is pending for over one and half years now. But, the government has brought the Act, which no other government did in the past four-five decades,” Subrata Thakur, who heads the All India Matua Mahasangha told The Print.

“We are not questioning the government intent, but we have to convince the stateless people as well. They are helpless and they have been waiting for citizenship for decades now. We all need a time frame,” he added.

“We have held meetings with senior BJP leaders, we were told that there were at least 170 cases pending in the court. The government will frame the rules once the cases are settled.”

‘BJP has lost ground’

The Trinamool Congress, however, claims that the BJP lost ground when Shah skipped public addresses at Thakurnagar.

“We have been cautiously watching the situation. It seems that BJP lost the plot here. Amit Shah cancelled his meeting at Thakurnagar twice. There is no excitement among the Matuas anymore. We do not think that Shah’s rally will get much traction today,” Trinamool Congress MLA Surajit Biswas told The Print.

“They may bring some lame excuses, but it is already late. We are regaining our lost ground in the area,” added Biswas, who has been closely associated with Matua matriarch Baro Ma’s (late Binapani Devi) family.

Former TMC MP Mamata Bala Thakur said, “Shah has nothing new to say today. he will again say that the CAA will be implemented. But their lies are out in public now. The Matuas will not believe them.”

Also read: Matuas key to BJP breaching Mamata’s south Bengal fort, but support hinges on CAA promise


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