KOLKATA: Eyeing Dalit and refugee votes in the 2021 Assembly elections, Union Home minister Amit Shah will have lunch at the house of a tribal family in Bankura on Thursday and a refugee family next day during his two-day trip to Bengal.
Sources in the BJP said Shah’s schedule was designed in the wake of the ruling party’s aggressive campaign against the BJP in the wake of the gang-rape and murder of a Dalit at Hathras in BJP-ruled Uttar Pradesh.
The decision of having lunch at the house of a refugee family on Friday was taken as discontent among the refugees is visible to some extent as the Centre is yet to keep its promise of giving them citizenship by implementing the CAA.
The BJP caused massive erosion in the ruling Trinamool Congress’s refugee and Matua vote bank, who belong to SC community and form 16.6 per cent of total population in Bengal, in last year’s general elections. Followers of Matua sect are in majority in Bongaon, Ranaghat, Alipurduar and Cooch Behar Lok Sabha constituencies.
‘’Refugees are 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 Matua community, is aimed to woo the refugee and Matua electorates,’’ said a senior BJP leader.
BJP MP Shantanu Thakur wrote to Shah recently informing him about the discontent among the Matuas and refugees regarding the delay in implementing the CAA. Last month, BJP chief JP Nadda in north Bengal made it clear that the Centre would go ahead with the CAA. “We are expecting a message from Amitji about the implementation of CAA. Since the promise of giving refugees citizenship ensured electoral dividend in the Lok Sabha elections, we will have to keep our words ahead of the 2021 Assembly elections,’’ said another BJP leader.