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Odishatv Bureau

By Sarada Lahangir

North 24 Parganas and South 24 Parganas are two such districts in West Bengal which play a vital role in elections. These two districts, having 64 assembly seats (33 seats North 24 Parganas and 31 in South 24 Parganas), have been playing a decisive role in every election. Whoever wins these seats, it becomes easy to come to the power in Bengal. TMC won 27 out of 33 seats of North 24 Parganas in 2016, so it won the election by a large margin, but this time the BJP has made it difficult for them to retain those seats.

In the sixth phase poll for the 17 seats of North-24 Parganas will be held tomorrow. It seems the tough fight will be witnessed between the TMC and BJP. During the last two assembly elections, the votes of the Matua community living there went with Mamata, but it seems to be divided this time and the inclination is more towards BJP.

In fact, North-24 Parganas have a large population of Matuas. Their population is said to be 5 crores all over the country. Out of that 3 crores live in West Bengal. There are 1 crore 80 lakh voters out of the 3 crore population. The Matuas are taken into the SC category and are called Namasudras. A large population of the Matua community comes from Bangladesh and is yet to get permanent citizenship. One can imagine how important CAA will be for this community. PM Narendra Modi visited Bangladesh a few days ago and he also took blessings at the temple of Harichandra Thakur, the founder of Matua Mahasangh. The BJP has played the CAA card to woo the Matua voters.

The BJP has been saying before the Lok Sabha elections that all the Matua people will be given permanent citizenship by implementing the CAA. At the same time TMC is countering this by saying that if one has all kinds of identity proof then there was no need for citizenship.

On one hand BJP has fielded Subrata Thakur, the brother of Bangaon MP Shantanu Thakur, for Gaighat seat in the Matua-dominated Bangaon Lok Sabha constituency. Since the Thakur families themselves are from the Matua community and they have considerable influence within the community. On the other hand Mamata Thakur coming from the same family is with TMC. In such a situation, the Matua society also seems to be divided between the TMC and the BJP. Some are seeing an “Asol change”, while some are looking at the development model of Didi.

Local leaders rebel due to Subrata‘s candidature

Local leaders of the BJP are quite upset and peeved when Subrata Thakur got a ticket in Thakur Nagar, a stronghold of Matuas. Many local leaders were aspirant there, so they have entered the fray by forming a new party. In such a situation, they might cut the votes of BJP. Mamata Thakur, a former Bangaon MP, says “19 lakh people have been shifted to detention camps in Assam. Even after BJP’s victory in the Bangaon Lok Sabha in 2019, the Matua community was not given citizenship, so the people here understood everything”. “Matuas will now vote for TMC and not BJP,” she added.

In fact, the BJP had started luring Matua voters since 2019 Lok Sabha elections when BJP had promised Matua community with citizenship as soon as the party came to power. As a result BJP had won the Bangaon and Barrackpur seats. Since then Mamata Benerjee is also applying her ways and means to get the support of the community.

Polarizations

The North-24 Parganas district is predominant by Hindus. Minorities form majority in few seats only. Since last two years many small riots have taken place here.

Bombing also occurred here several times even before the election. This has given a boost to the polarization, as people are afraid of each other. Though TMC does not want to encourage polarization here at least because it knows that would benefit the BJP, but the polarization is clearly visible and it will have an impact on the election outcome. Out of the 17 seats where voting is to be held, 12 seats are under the Bangaon and Barrackpur Lok Sabha seats. And in both the Lok Sabha seats the sitting MPs are from BJP.

Mamata’s strategist Prasant Kishor has already said several times that the inclination of the Matua community is more visible towards the BJP. In this scenario it is difficult to say who will gain and who will win. But the contest will be tough for sure.

Jute mill workers at Barrackpur will benefit BJP?

Out of the 61 jute mills in West Bengal 25 are in Barrackpur. The workers’ strength in various mills ranged from 2,500 to 4000. Most of the jute mills workers are non Bengalis and Hindi -speaking.

The BJP has made several announcements regarding jute mill workers. Therefore, this section of people seems to be with the BJP. TMC seems to get here support from the minority voters, as they like the road, the bridge and Mamata Banerjee’s schemes.

TMC has also tactfully replaced a number of candidates this time in the North 24 Parganas. Because of that there will be no factor of anti-incumbency. Still, at some places there is anger among the local leaders but they do not appear to be angry with Mamata. The task of making the road difficult for TMC has been done by Mukul Roy, who was once in TMC. He knows the pulse of the people in the district well and accordingly the BJP’s organization was strengthened here.

On 22 April 2021 the poll will be conducted for the seats -North 24 Parganas: Bagda, Bangaon North, Bangaon South, Gaighat, Swaroopnagar, Baduria, Habra, Ashoknagar, Amdanga, Bijpur, Naihati, Bhatpada, Jagatdal, Naupara, Barrackpur, Khardaha and Dum Dum North.

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