Kolkata: Union home minister Amit Shah will have lunch with a Matua family in Rajarhat during his two-day Bengal visit on November 5. Coming three years after Shah, as BJP national president, had lunch with an Adivasi family at Naxalbari in north Bengal in 2017, the move is a clear signal that BJP plans to move ahead on the Citizenship (Amendment) Act ahead of the 2021 Bengal assembly polls.
Shah will also offer puja at Dakshineswar temple and pay a visit to Hindustani classical vocalist Pandit Ajoy Chakrabarty’s “Shrutinandan” residence at Tollygunge apart from holding talks with prominent citizens and representatives from various sectors during his stay in Kolkata on November 6. BJP seniors Kailash Vijayvargiya and Mukul Roy had called on the Padma Bhushan awardee on Monday to do the groundwork. “It was like visiting a hermitage for us,” said Vijayvargiya.
Shah, during his meetings with BJP karyakartas in Bankura on November 5 and Kolkata on November 6, is likely to chart out the CAA roadmap for Bengal after BJP national president J P Nadda told in his virtual address at Siliguri that rules are being framed for CAA and that the Act will be implemented in Bengal. But Nadda didn’t make a mention of NPR/NRC for Bengal.
The state witnessed angry outpouring on the streets from January to March this year against the controversial Act that aims at giving citizenship to Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain, Parsi and Christian religious minorities who fled from the neighbouring Muslim-majority countries of Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan before December 2014 due to “religious persecution or fear of religious persecution”.
The protesters held that the Act was a “positive discrimination” against Muslims. The debate over the Bill and its passing in Parliament led to a polarization between “refugees and infiltrators”, an issue Narendra Modi has been raising during his election tours in Bengal since 2009.
Citizenship was one issue for which the Matua community — a Namasudra sub-sect which migrated to Bengal from Gopalganj’s Orakandi in Bangladesh — extended support to Modi during the 2019 Lok Sabha polls. Matua leader and BJP Bongaon MP Shantanu Thakur now wants the party to pay back ahead of the assembly polls.
Matuas are only a fraction of those who migrated to Bengal from erstwhile East Pakistan and Bangladesh. Such migrants are spread over Bengal, in Kolkata and districts, including north Bengal.
Trinamool senior and MP Saugata Roy held that Shah’s having lunch with a Matua family won’t have any impact on voters. “Amit Shah is coming to put the divided Bengal BJP house in order. Earlier, he had lunch at a Chetla Lockgate slum. But it didn’t work,” Roy said.