Bengal BJP faces Matua leaders’ ire as they seek representation in party panels

Bengal BJP faces Matua leaders’ ire as they seek representation in party panels

India News


Smarting from poll setbacks and desertions, the West Bengal BJP is now facing a new challenge — the ire of the leaders of the Matua community, a major vote bank that had helped the party win several seats in the 2021 Assembly elections besides playing a key role in ensuring its success in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls.

The Matua leaders’ discontent with the BJP was reflected on Tuesday when Santanu Thakur, Union Minister of State for Ports, Shipping and Waterways, left various WhatsApp groups of the Bengal BJP. An MP from Bongaon, Thakur is a senior Matua community leader who heads the All India Matua Mahasangha, a religious and cultural organisation of the community. His move came after a section of MLAs from the community left various WhatsApp groups of the state BJP.

They have been upset with the party since the Matua leaders were not given any representation in the revamped state committee that the party recently announced. They highlighted that their community leaders have also not got adequate representation in the party-constituted organisational zones and district committees even in areas with a sizeable Matua population.

As Thakur and several Matua BJP MLAs held a closed-door meeting on Tuesday night to deliberate on their demands, the Bengal BJP said the row will be resolved internally, even as the ruling Trinamool Congress (TMC) made it clear that its doors would remain open for talks with the “dissident” Matua leaders.

“It was the Matua votes which helped BJP win seats in 2019 Lok Sabha and 2021 Assembly polls. Many BJP workers who were killed in political violence are from the community. Matua people want their representation in committees and district leadership of the party they are with. It is not for our personal gain but for the community. We want BJP to be strong in Bengal,” Mukut Mani Adhikari, BJP MLA from the Ranaghat Dakhin constituency, told The Indian Express. Adhikari was among the MLAs who were closeted with Thakur Tuesday.

“Our demands are clear. We want the position of a vice president and a secretary in the Bengal BJP’s state committee to be represented by Matuas following discussions with Santanu Thakur on the matter. We want the post of observer of Nabadwip zone to represent Matuas. We want a change of the post of president of the organisational districts of Nadia Dakshin and Bongaon. In both posts, proper representation of the community is the need of the hour. We also want that the party should discuss with Thakur before forming the committee of Scheduled Caste Morcha in the state,” Adhikari said.

“We had a talk earlier with B L Santoshji and Amit Malviyaji. Santanu Thakur has kept the national leaders informed about the issue,” he added.

On his part, Thakur told media persons, “I will not like to comment on my leaving the WhatsApp groups right now. Matua community leaders were not given a place in the state committee and others. Let the right time come, I will tell you the reason for my actions and my future plans.”


On December 25, five MLAs — Mukutmoni Adhikari, Subrata Thakur, Ambica Roy, Asok Kirtania and Asim Sarkar — had quit several WhatsApp groups of the state BJP, expressing their resentment over lack of Matua representation in the state party committee. Most of them belong to the Matua community. Later, B L Santosh, BJP national general secretary (organisation), and Amit Malviya, party in-charge of Bengal, held a meeting with the disgruntled Matua legislators.

Seeking to play down the controversy, newly-appointed Bengal BJP president Sukanta Majumder said, “It is an internal matter of the party. We will talk to him (Santanu Thakur) and resolve any issue which he may be facing. There is a process for all this. One should have communicated to state leadership directly.”

Waiting in the wings, the Mamata Banerjee-led Trinamool, meanwhile, indicated that it is willing to hold talks with the aggrieved BJP leaders from the Matua community for their induction into its fold.

“BJP has always divided people and used them. They have played politics with the Matua community. Now they are pushing Matua leaders out of the party. Earlier BJP deceived Matuas by claiming they will give them citizenship even though they are already citizens of this country. We are willing to talk if Matua leaders have any problem. Mamata Banerjee will take a call,” said TMC leader and Bengal Forest Minister, Vstate Jyotipriyo Mullick.

A politically-influential SC group, Matuas belong to the Namasudra community that migrated to India in droves from East Bengal during the Partition and after the formation of Bangladesh in 1971. The Matua community, which has a population of over 1 crore in West Bengal, has a strong presence in 26 Assembly seats in the state, where they can play a key role in determining the outcome of the polls. These are mainly Assembly segments in the Bongaon and Barasat parliamentary constituencies in North 24 Parganas and in the Krishnanagar and the Ranaghat parliamentary constituencies in Nadia district.

After being trounced by the Trinamool in the Assembly polls, which was followed by a debacle in the recent Kolkata Municipal Corporation (KMC) elections, the BJP’s Bengal unit is reeling under dissension, infighting and defections. A section of its MLAs deserted the party and switched to the TMC. The BJP had scalped 18 of the total 42 seats in the state in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. The party managed to win 77 seats in the Assembly polls early last year, even as it lost all the Assembly bypolls that were subsequently held. Its performance in the KMC polls was disastrous.

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