By Joymala Bagchi
Thakurnagar (West Bengal), April 16 (ANI): As the West Bengal Assembly elections is on its fifth phase, the crucial Matua community's (or Namasudras) votes that forms a major chunk of votes in the upcoming phases happens to be instrumental in deciding who comes into power in the state.
In areas that have a predominant presence of this community, political parties are wooing Matuas with varied promises.
On one hand, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is pitching implementation of the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) in the first cabinet meeting once it forms government in the state whereas the Left Front that has the fragrance of its lost glory lingering in these areas speaks of providing employment and education. All India Trinamool Congress (TMC) stated that it has done a lot of development for Matua but promises to do more.
People belonging to this community are classified as a Scheduled Caste. Immediately after partition, the community started migrating to the state of West Bengal. Roughly there is a presence of around 2.5 crores Matuas pan West Bengal whereas pan India the figure scores to approximately 6 crores.
With its huge population, it is believed that the voters belonging to this community possibly can influence at least 40 Assembly seats in the state, especially the fate of parties in North 24 Parganas, Nadia, Coochbehar and Burdwan districts.
Meghdoot Gyan a Matua who lives in Thakurnagar demands the implementation of CAA. Gyan's village is among the ones that have the maximum presence of the Matua community.
"We the Matua community who escaped to India because of the issue of religion demands implementation of CAA, no matter who comes to power. Our citizenship right is the issue, which needs to be addressed immediately," Gyan said.
Sourabh Tikadar an expert on Matua community said, "A minimal percentage of Matuas have developed themselves in terms of education, employment and other basic necessities however a large percentage has still remained underdeveloped. The underdeveloped Matuas need issues of health, education, shelter and economic stability addressed."
Tikadar sternly said, "It is very much visible that because of the community's massive population the political parties are banking on them and it is absolutely political in nature. Moreover, the Matuas are mostly united and hence political parties want these people beside them for votes."
Candidate KapilKrishna Thakur of Samyukt Morcha said, "We are focusing on employment because it is the primary requirement for existence irrespective of caste, creed and refugee level", however, he said the issue of citizenship holds importance.
Since the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, both the BJP and the Trinamool Congress (TMC) have outdone each other to woo the Matuas ahead of elections.
History shows that in 2011, TMC received support from Matuas. Again in 2016 out of 33 seats TMC won 27. However, in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls BJP gained a foothold here, TMC lost 12 Assembly seats.
However, before the 2019 elections, an allocation of Rs 10 crore for the development of the Matua Development Board and University was announced by the incumbent West Bengal government.
The fifth phase of polling will be held on Saturday, with 319 candidates contesting for 45 constituencies across six districts - Jalpaiguri, Kalimpong, Darjeeling, Nadia, North 24 Parganas and Purba Bardhaman. (ANI)