KOLKATA: Bongaon MP Shantanu Thakur, the elected representative of Matuas, a religious sect comprising Dalits who migrated to West Bengal from Bangladesh, said on Wednesday that Hindu refugees from the neighbouring country are waiting to hear when the CAA will be implemented from the Union Home minister Amit Shah.
Thakur’s statement came at a time when the BJP’s national leadership appears to ‘dodge’ the issue of Hindu migrants’ citizenship -- a promise that the saffron camp had made before last year’s general elections to woo the vote-bank of Matuas.
During his recent Bengal visit, Shah said the process of implementing the contentious law was getting delayed because of Covid-19 pandemic and he, however, did not specify any possible deadline which could have assured the Hindu refugees of their citizenship.
"The Union Home Minister got the citizenship bill passed in both the Houses of Parliament. As it has become an act, people from Matua community are waiting to know when the new act will be implemented from the Union Home minister. I hope he will visit our area and address the issue in a public rally soon," said Thakur, who expressed his discontent on several occasions for not implementing the newly amended act.
Dalits and Matuas, with a population of more than 3 crore in Bengal, are a deciding factor in at least in 55 Assembly constituencies and the strong presence of these electorates has always been target vote-bak of all poitical parties in the state.
The BJP appears to be in embarrassing position on the issue of implantation of CAA, the contentious act which triggered nationwide protests and violence. Initially, the BJP’s Bengal chapter decided Shah would address a rally in Bongaon during his last Bengal visit but the plan was changed anticipating a hostile reaction from the Matuas which might have delivered a wrong electoral message ahead of the upcoming Assembly elections.
Saffron camp’s Bengal observer, before Shah’s visit, visited Bongaon and held a meeting with Shah to gauge the mood of Matuas, who shifted their political alignment to the BJP from the Trinamool Congress.
Thakur, on two occasions, wrote to Shah asking him to announce the deadline for implementing the CAA. Responding to speculations that he might quit the BJP on the CAA issue, Thakur said, "Citizenship is a long-standing demand of Matuas. I will not support any other political party which is opposing the CAA. But I hope the central leadership will clear the confusion about the new act’s implementation."
Amid murmurs of Thakur’s discontent, BJP’s state president Dilip Ghosh held a closed-door meeting with the Bongaon MP two days ago.
BJP’s national vice president Mukul Roy alleged that both the CPI(M) and TMC followed the vote-bank politics riding Matuas' sentiment which is unfortunate. "BJP is the only party which talks about justice for Matuas, who had to migrate from Bangladesh following religious persecution. The party’s national leadership will address the Hindu refugees’ citizenship issue," he said.