The BJP on Tuesday announced its candidates for 10 more seats in West Bengal. The announcement turned the family feud in Thakurbari of Matua Mahasangha into a political fight after it fielded Shantanu Thakur as its candidate from Bongaon constituency.
The BJP has so far announced its candidates in 40 out of 42 seats in the state. Thakur, who leads the pro-BJP faction of the Matua community in the North 24 Parganas district, has been pitted against his aunt and sitting TMC MP Mamata Bala Thakur, who is also a member of Thakurbari.
Last month, Shantanu helped organise Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s rally in Thakurnagar, which falls under Bongaon constituency. On March 7, an ugly tug of war between the two factions of Matua Mahasangha erupted over holding the last rites of Matua community matriach Binapani Devi, who died on March 5.
The Matuas are Namasudras, a Scheduled Caste community with a presence in at least six parliamentary seats. No official data on the population of the community is available. However, community leaders put their population at 3 crore, while a state minister said there were around 1.75 crore voters. According to political observers, the support or Matua community will be a crucial determining factor in seats such as Ranaghat, Bongaon, Krishnanagar, Barrackpore, Barasat and Cooch Behar.
“People of North 24 Parganas district want to see a change in 2019. People belonging to various sects have chosen BJP over TMC. The party wants to pay them back by electing a member of such communities to Lok Sabha. This will not only benefit the community, but also benefit our party as well,” said a senior BJP leader on condition of anonymity.
Meanwhile, former TMC leader Humayun Kabir, former journalist Rantidev Sengupta, actor-turned-BJP leader Joy Banerjee and state BJP vice-president Subhas Sarkar were also announced as candidates. After Tuesday’s list, the party is yet to announce its candidates in the Bardhaman, Durgapur and Purulia seats of West Bengal.