KOLKATA: West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee has convened an emergency meeting with party MPs, MLAs and core committee members on January 29, the day Union Home minister will land in Kolkata for a two-day visit.
The CM’s meeting is politically significant amid speculations that more TMC legislators, including at least one former minister of her cabinet, might jump the ship to BJP in presence of Shah in a rally in Howrah district on January 31.
Sources in the TMC said the CM took a strong stance about the rebellious party functionaries who are expressing their discontent publicly. "The party already expelled Baishali Dalmiya, the MLA from Bally in Howrah, and served a show-cause notice to Hooghly’s Uttarpara MLA Prabir Ghoshal for issuing anti-party statements. The CM is likely to deliver a message to the MLAs and other elected representatives in the backdrop of the recent exodus," said a senior leader of the ruling party.
Six TMC MLAs, including Suvendu Adhikari, one sitting MP, and 45 other district-level functionaries had joined the BJP at a rally in West Midnapore in presence of Shah in December. The functionaries of BJP’s Bengal chapter are claiming that Bengal is going to witness another round of large-scale defection from the TMC to the BJP in presence of the Union Home Minister in a rally scheduled to be held at Dumurjala stadium in Howrah.
It is apparent that the TMC supremo has adopted a tough stance to deal with the party’s disgruntled leaders who are hinting at shifting sides. At a recent rally in Hooghly, the CM made it clear that the party’s door would remain shut for the turncoats if they wanted to come back.
Shah’s two-day Bengal visit starting from January 30 has become the most discussed issue in the circuit of Bengal’s politics as the Matuas, the Dalit followers of a Hindu religious sect comprising refugees from Bangladesh, are expecting a deadline on the implementation of the contentious CAA from the Union Home minister. On January 30, Shah is scheduled to address a rally in Thakurnagar, Bongaon, where the headquarters of Matua Mahasangha is located.
Riding the support of the Matuas and Hindu refugees, the BJP had made deep inroads in Bengal’s Dalit-dominated pockets by promising them citizenship by implementing the CAA in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.
Matuas are a deciding factor in at least 35 Assembly constituencies and other Dalit communities dominate in 20 seats in the state. Last month, Shantanu Thakur, the saffron camp’s Bongaon MP and a representative of Matuas, had said his community wanted Shah to announce the deadline of implementing the CAA.
Measuring the discontent among the Matuas and Dalits, Mamata Banerjee has already addressed two rallies in Bongaon and Ranaghat, another Hindu refugee dominated pocket, and hit out at the BJP on the citizenship issue.