BJP leaders assure Matuas of Shah's meeting soon, Trinamool blames it of resorting to falsehood

KOLKATA: With Union Home Minister Amit Shah cancelling his visit to Matua stronghold Thakurnagar in North 24 Paragans district on Saturday, senior BJP leaders Kailash Viayvargiya and Mukul Roy met prominent members of the commuity and assured them that the central minister will hold a meeting for them “very soon”.

Vijayvargiya, BJP national general secretary and Roy, the party’s national vice-president, were closeted in an over an hour long meeting with party MP Santanu Thakur.

They told the members of the community that Shah’s visit to Thakurnagar was cancelled due to sudden developments in Delhi and that he will visit the place “very soon” and address the Matuas during his next visit to the state.

Shah’s two-day visit to West Bengal from Saturday was cancelled at the last minute following a blast outside the Israeli embassy in the national capital.

His proposed meeting at Thakurnagar assumes importance as the Matuas with an estimated population of 30 lakh in the state can influence the poll outcome in at least 60 assembly seats in Nadia, North and South 24 Parganas districts of poll-bound West Bengal.

Polls are likely to be held in April- May this year.

Later, Roy told reporters “Amit Shah spoke to Santanu Thakur about holding the proposed meeting on any coming day and asked the organizers not to dismantle the stage originally erected for the meeting”.

“Please don’t dismantle the stage and keep yourself ready for all last minute arrangements in 24-48 hour notice. My office will keep you posted,” Roy quoted Shah as having told Santanu Thakur.

Meanwhile, Matuas living in pockets near the Bangladesh border who had come to the headquarters of the sect looked distraught at the sudden change of plan and left the venue.

“Shah could not come due to developments in Delh. He is a busy person. We are ready to wait for him,” a member of the community said.

Mamatabala Thakur, Trinamool Congress leader from the community on the other hand said the cancellation of the scheduled meeting showed that Shah had nothing concrete to offer to the Matuas regarding the citizenship issue.

Matuas originally hail from erstwhile East Pakistan, now Bangladesh, and began migrating to West Bengal in the beginning of the 1950s, mostly due to religious persecution.

Senior TMC leader Subrata Mukherjee claimed that BJP was giving “false promises” to the community.

Referring to the assurances by BJP in the past about Citizenship Amendment Act among the Matuas, Mukherjee, who is also a senior state minister, said “Matuas have always had citizenship in Bengal. They have voted.”

“How can you give citizenship to those who are already citizens? Those who have ration cards are citizens,” he said.

In November 2020 Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee had distributed 25,000 land pattas to refugees from the Matua community.

“This land right document will ensure that they are citizens,” Mukherjee pointed out.

“Parliament rules were supposed to be framed within six months for Citizenship Amendment Act after the Lok Sabha polls. They (BJP) asked for more time to make rules, leaving thousands of people in uncertainty. Now they are using COVID- 19 as an excuse. All of this is jumla (false promise),” he addedd.