West Bengal: What is Matua sect whom Shah-Mamta-Modi all are trying to woo

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New Delhi : Prime Minister Narendra Modi started his Bengal election campaign during the Lok Sabha elections last year by receiving blessings from 100-year-old monastery Boro Maa Binapani Devi of the Matua community. This was a very tricky move to break into Mamata Banerjee’s vote bank. Under this, the Bharatiya Janata Party gave ticket of the Bongaon Lok Sabha seat to the grandson of the Boro Maa, Shantanu Thakur. This strategy of getting matua votes worked well.

BJP won this seat for the first time. This is the reason why Amit Shah is going to meet the people of Matua community during his two-day visit to West Bengal by taking time out from his busy schedule.

The people of Matua community come from East Pakistan and have been demanding citizenship under the Citizenship Amendment Act. It is believed that people of this community were with the BJP in 2019, but currently their young MP Shantanu Thakur is angry about this law. In such a situation, Amit Shah wants to express himself by having food with the Matua family.

Here Mamta Banerjee has also given land rights to 25,000 refugee families on Wednesday in view of the assembly elections. Mamta Banerjee has allocated Rs 10 crore and five crore for the Matua Development Board and Namasudra Development Board respectively.

The Matua sect was founded by the descendants of Harichand Thakur. The Thakur family of North 24 Parganas district has a long association with politics. Harichand’s great-grandson Pramath Ranjan Thakur became a member of the West Bengal Legislative Assembly in 1962 as a Congress candidate. Pramath was married to Binapani Devi in 1933. Binapani Devi was later called ‘Matua Mata’ or ‘Boro Maa’ (elder mother). Binapani Devi was born in 1918 in Barisal district of undivided Bengal. After independence, Binapani Devi moved to West Bengal with the Thakur family.

Shatayu Binapani Devi, the widow of Pramath Ranjan Thakur, remained the goddess of fortune for this community till the end. In recent times, many members of the Thakur family have tried their luck in politics and used their reputation in the Matua Federation.

For the convenience of Namasudra refugees, Binapani Devi along with her family set up a refugee settlement named Thakurganj on the present Bangladesh border. In this, arrangements were made to keep people from across the border, especially Namasudra refugees.

The Matua family entered politics due to its growing influence. In 1962 Parmarth Ranjan Thakur won the assembly election from Hanskhali, the reserved seat for the Scheduled Tribes of Nadia district of West Bengal. Due to the political status of the Matua sect, the influence of the Matua sect continued to grow stronger in the vicinity of Nadia district and in the border areas of Bangladesh.

Pramath Ranjan Thakur died in 1990. After this, Binapani Devi took the role of mentor of Matua Mahasabha. People associated with the sect started treating her as a goddess. Matua Mata Binapani Devi passed away on 5 March 2019. The West Bengal government conducted her last rites with full official honors.

In 2010, Mata Binapani Devi grew closer to Mamata Banerjee. On 15 March 2010, Banapani Devi declared Mamata Banerjee as the patron of the Matua sect. This was formally considered to be Mamata Banerjee’s political support. Mamata’s Trinamool Congress got the support of the Matua sect in creating an atmosphere against the Left and in 2011 Mamta Banerjee became the Chief Minister of West Bengal.

In the year 2014, Kapil Krishna Thakur, elder son of Binapani Devi contested from Bangaon Lok Sabha seat on a Trinamool Congress ticket and reached Parliament. Kapil Krishna Thakur died in 2015. After that, his wife Mamta Bala Thakur won this seat on the Trinamool Congress ticket in the 2015 by-elections.

After the death of Matua Mata, the political division in the family began to appear openly. Her younger son Manjul Krishna Thakur joined BJP. In 2019, BJP gave ticket to Manjul Krishna Thakur’s son Shantanu Thakur from Bangaon and he became an MP.

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