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Buckstop Bengal

Modi, Mamata In A Matua Matrix

BJP and Trinamool sprint to catch a largely immigrant but influential community’s vote

Modi, Mamata In A Matua Matrix
Blessed By The Mother |
Modi, Mamata In A Matua Matrix
outlookindia.com
2019-02-08T11:38:34+05:30

It was a surging sea of heads from atop, pushing forward and crouching low in the downwash from the helicopter hovering over them. “Taratari koro, Modi eshe gechhe (Move fast, Modi’s here).” The crowd goes out of control—everyone in the tens of thousands gathered on a dusty ground and outside in Thakurnagar wants to see and hear Narendra Modi from close. And why not? They can’t recall when a prime minister came to address the Matuas before—though they are a tight-knit Hindu scheduled-caste community of more than 4.7 million and their votes can sway the outcome in about 74 assembly and seven parliamentary constituencies in West Bengal.

The stats are not lost as Prime Minister Modi chose the Matua stronghold of Thakurnagar, 30 km from the India-Bangladesh border, to launch the BJP’s Lok Sabha election campaign in Ben­gal—a state where the party is looking for a putsch this summer to unseat its ent­renched bugbear, the Trinamool Cong­ress of Mamata Banerjee. In his speech, interrupted by appeals to the crowd to keep calm, he underscored his government’s citizenship amendment bill that will guarantee Indian nationa­lity to Hindus from Bangladesh. He tou­­ched a chord as the Matua community, which is also a religious sect that has matriarch Boroma at the helm, consists almost exc­lusively of Nama­shudra Dalit immigrants from East Bengal after Par­tition and Bangladesh after 1971. And many of them are said to be fighting for Indian citizenship.

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