KOLKATA: Union Home Minister Amit Shah will have lunch at the houses of a tribal family in Bankura on Thursday and a Bangladeshi refugee family the following day during his two-day trip to West Bengal.
Sources in the BJP said Shah’s schedule was designed in the wake of the ruling TMC's aggressive campaign against the saffron party's handling of the alleged gangrape and murder of a Dalit woman at Hathras in Uttar Pradesh.
Shah's move came amid the discontent among the refugees due to the Centre's pre-election promise of giving them citizenship by implementing the Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA).
Apparently influenced by the promises of citizenship, the refugees had supported the BJP en bloc in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.
The BJP caused massive erosion in the ruling TMC vote bank among refugees and the Matua community, who belong to scheduled caste community and form 16.6 of the population in Bengal. Followers of Matua religious sect, who are the majority in Bongaon, Ranaghat, Alipurduar, and Cooch Behar Lok Sabha constituencies, changed their political allegiance in favour of the BJP.
"Refugees are a deciding factor in many pockets of south Bengal. Recently, two MPs elected from Bongaon and Ranaghat Lok Sabha constituencies reported that refugees are expressing their discontent as the CAA has not been implemented yet. Shah’s visit to a refugee’s house, who belong to the Matua community, is aimed to woo the refugees and the Matua electorates," said a senior BJP leader.
Last month, BJP’s national president JP Nadda, while visiting north Bengal, made it clear that the Centre would go ahead with the CAA and implement it in the near future despite the contentious Act triggered nationwide protests.
Shantanu Thakur, the BJP MP from Bongaon, wrote to Shah recently informing him about the discontent among the Matuas and refugees regarding the delay in implementing CAA.
"We are expecting a message from Amit ji about the implementation of CAA. Since the promise of giving refugees citizenship ensured electoral dividend in last year’s Lok Sabha elections, we will have to keep our words ahead of the 2021 Assembly elections," said another BJP leader.