Congress supporter Saket Gokhale, who likes to call himself a ‘Transparency activist and investigator’, has filed a plea with Election Commission regarding Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Orakandi, Bangladesh which is scheduled for 27th March which coincides with the polling for the first phase of the elections in West Bengal. Gokhale has sought directions from the EC to delay the telecast of PM’s speech in India so that it ‘does not influence the voters in Bengal’, and also demanded that the EC should first read the PM’s speech and approve it before it is delivered in Bangladesh.
Saket Gokhale revealed the same through a tweet and claimed that Orakandi “is a shrine for Matua community that influences about 29 seats in Bengal.”
Filed a representation affidavit with Election Commission regarding PM Modi’s visit to Orakandi in Bangladesh which is a shrine for Matua community that influences about 29 seats in Bengal.— Saket Gokhale (@SaketGokhale) March 21, 2021
Modi is making this visit on 27 March i.e. 1st day of Phase 1 polling in Bengal.
Saket Gokhale has also requested the Election Commission of India to vet an advanced copy of PM Modi’s speech to be delivered at Orakandi, allow the broadcast of his program only after closing of polling time i.e., 6 pm and restrain the BJP from using this event for the election campaign.
I’ve demanded that the ECI:— Saket Gokhale (@SaketGokhale) March 21, 2021
1. Vet an advance copy of Modi’s speech to be delivered at Orakandi
2. Require all TV media to broadcast Modi’s program at Orakandi only after close of polling i.e. 6pm
3. Restrain BJP from using this state visit for election campaigning.
Alleging an attempt to influence the voters of Matua community which comprises of 3 crore people, Saket Gokhale furthers his claim by stating, “influencing the emotions or targeting a particular sect, caste, or religion in the process of electoral campaigning is also prohibited under the Model Code of Conduct.”
That’s not where the allegations stop. Saket further assumes that the Office of Prime Minister in its official duties is trying to influence the minds of voters on the day of polling.
Here’s a copy of the affidavit shared by Saket Gokhale.
It may be noted that Prime Minister Narendra Modi is set to visit Bangladesh on a two-day visit at the invitation of Bangladesh PM Sheikh Hasina to join the 50th celebration of Bangladesh’s independence.
The Matua community:
The Matua’s are originally from East Bengal and many of them entered West Bengal after the partition and formation of Bangladesh. The Matua Mahasangha, a religious reforms movement was formed by Harichand Thakur in the mid-1800s. The community has had a strong presence in politics since then. Initially supporting the Congress, the community offered its support to the Left Front from 1977. However, noticing a change in citizenship and land rights, Boro Ma ( matriarch of the Matua Mahasangha) made Mamata Banerjee the chief patron of Matua Mahasabha in 2009 after she approached them. In 2018, Mamata Banerjee had visited Boro Ma and the government later announced a welfare board for Matuas.
Boro Ma’s son Kapil Krishna Thakur won the Bangaon Lok Sabha on a Trinamool ticket in 2014. Soon after his death, Kapil’s wife Mamata Thakur won the same seat while Boro Ma’s another son Manjul Krishna Thakur, a TMC minister later joined the BJP followed by his son Subrata.