On Saturday, BJP leader Kailash Vijayvargiya assured the Matua community in Thakurnagar in South 24 Parganas district of West Bengal of implementation of the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA). This assurance comes days after West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee lied to the Matua community that they do not require citizenship under CAA as ‘they are already citizens of India’.
While addressing the media, BJP’s national general secretary informed, “We do not need the support of the State government. The Centre has the power to implement CAA in West Bengal. It will be implemented, irrespective of the support of the State.” It has been a long-standing demand of the Matua community that they are provided with permanent citizenship.
“Matuas, Nama Shudras have been living in India as refugees, after coming to India from Pakistan and Bangladesh to avoid religious persecution. We will give them citizenship to them, under any circumstances, and none can stop us,” Kailash Vijayvargiya emphasised. He had met Shantanu Thakur, BJP MP from Bongaon and a Matua community leader, during his visit to Thakurnagar. Shantanu added, “We will be looking forward to Union Home Minister Amit Shah making the announcement on implementation of CAA during his visit to Thakurnagar.”
TMC lies and cries foul
TMC leader Sougata Roy claimed that Matuas have already been given permanent citizenship and the right to vote. “The assurance to give them citizenship is akin to saying that they are not citizens,” he alleged. Former TMC MP Mamata Thakur also said that the party will announce a sit-in protest against the decision. “We will not accept citizenship like this,” she said.
Earlier last week, Mamata Banerjee, while addressing a rally in Gopalnagar in Matua-dominated Bongaon in North 24-Parganas district attempted to appease the people from Matua community. She had claimed that the BJP was trying to divide people by promising citizenship under CAA. Claiming that Matua people are already Indian citizens, Banerjee said, “I’m saying all Matua people are Indian citizens. There’s no need for a certificate for it.”
Who are the Matuas?
Matuas are ‘lower-caste’ Hindu immigrants from Bangladesh who have migrated to India, owing to religious persecution. The community was founded by Harichand Thakur (1812-1878) and his son Guruchand Thakur (1846-1937), who lived at Faridpur in Bangladesh. Although their families came to Bengal in 1946, most of their community members entered India ‘illegally’ after 1971.
They hold influence in over 40 constituencies in the State. While they have supported the TMC in the past, the BJP has witnessed a voting shift towards them in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls. The Matua community in West Bengal is awaiting the implementation of CAA, reports suggest. BJP chief JP Nadda had earlier assured that the rules were being framed for implementation of CAA.