Bengal polls: Mamata schedules emergency meeting on January 29 as Shah set to begin state visit

Express News Service
KOLKATA: Political slugfest between the BJP and the Trinamool Congress has intensified ahead of Union Home Minister Amit Shah’s two-day West Bengal visit starting from Saturday. 

The ruling party on Friday decided to organise an event at the same venue in Bongaon, North 24 Parganas, on February 9 where the Union Home Minister is scheduled to address a rally on Saturday (January 30).

When Shah’s visit is aimed to retain the party’s Matua vote-share that it had bagged in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections by promising the followers of the Hindu religious sect, who migrated from Bangladesh, citizenship, the TMC is desperate to win back the community. The saffron camp had promised to implement the contentious CAA and give the Hindu refugees citizenship before last year’s general elections.  

“Matuas, influenced by BJP’s citizenship promise, changed their political alignment in last year’s election. Now, their dissent is conspicuous and they want Shah, the architect behind the CAA, to announce a deadline. The BJP is on a back foot as the new act triggered nation-wide violence. We have decided to hold a rally at the same place at Thakurnagar in Bongaon Lok Sabha constituency, where Shah will address a gathering, to give the BJP a befitting reply to their misleading politics,” said a senior TMC leader.

The leader, however, said it is yet to be finalised whether party supremo Mamata Banerjee or her nephew Abhishek Banerjee will address the Bongaon rally.

Matuas are a deciding factor in 35 Assembly constituencies across the state and the BJP secured the lead in 22 in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. In south Bengal, the saffron camp bagged both the Bongaon and Ranaghat Lok Sabha seats where the concentration of Matua electorates is high.   

Bengal BJP functionaries decided to bring Shah to Matuas’ religious headquarters at Thakurnagar in Bongaon after the local MP Shantanu Thakur had recently said he was not sure what would be the political alignment of the religious sect followers if CAA is not implemented. He also said that Matuas want Shah to visit Thakurnagar and announce the deadline.

The BJP high-command, including Shah and the party’s national president JP Nadda, have been dodging questions related to the implementation of the CAA during their West Bengal visits. Both Shah and Nadda said the process of preparing the Act was under process and it was being delayed because of Covid-19 pandemic.