For the first time perhaps, West Bengal witnessed an election that revolved around one family and a religious sect, leading to the division of the electorate into two groups — one owing allegiance to BJP and the other to Trinamool Congress.
Claiming that politics has ravaged his family, Shantanu Thakur — younger brother of BJP’s Bongaon bypoll candidate Subrata Thakur — said: “I wish Motua Thakurbari is not connected with politics. I am sure many members of the Motua sect also feel the same. We are sick of it.”
Former Trinamool leader Manjul Krishna Thakur — Shantanu and Subrata’s father — had resigned as state minister for refugee relief and rehabilitation and joined the BJP ahead of the bypoll. While BJP had announced Subrata as its candidate, Trinamool had fielded Mamatabala Thakur — wife of Manjul’s elder son Kapil Krishna Thakur. A former Trinamool MP from Bongaon and Sanghadhipati (head) of Motua sect, Kapil had died two months ago.
The Motua sect forms more than 50 per cent of the electorate of the Bongaon Lok Sabha seat. Kapil’s death had left the Motua Thakurbari — the headquarters of the Motua sect at Bongaon — divided. While one faction has announced Mamatabala as his successor, another has named Manjul as the new head.
Both factions had claimed their choice has the endorsement of Manjul’s mother Binapani Devi, wife of former Sanghadipati Pramatha Ranjan Thakur, who was a minister in the B C Roy cabinet.
Shantanu, who has done his schooling in Australia and now stays at the Thakurbari, said the entire Thakurbari was under surveillance of the state police. “If I go to my grandmother’s room, I am stopped by some policeman, who tells me that she is unwell and cannot meet anybody. Imagine a situation when you get to know from policemen that your grandmother who stays just five yards away from you is no longer accessible to you,’’ he said.
Apprehensive of a situation where his brother loses the bypoll, Shantanu said: “In that case my father will become a big zero. I don’t know what we will have to face.”
On Friday morning, high drama was witnessed at the Thakurbari when Manjul alleged that his mother Binapani Devi has been “hijacked” by a rival group led by Mamatabala Thakur.
“By hijacking my mother, my boudi (wife of elder brother) is trying to split the Motua vote. But she will not be able to do it,’’ Manjul said.
However, Binapani Devi, who had already expressed her support for Mamatabala, said: “I have cast my vote according to my own consideration.’’