New Delhi: After a fresh reshuffle in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s cabinet, it is believed that the central government is eyeing the north districts as well as the vote bank of Matua and Rajvanshi communities in Bengal. On Wednesday, the number of representatives of Bengal in the cabinet of Modi government has been increased from 2 to 4. The next Lok Sabha election is in 2024.
Four leaders of West Bengal who got a place in Modi cabinet
Shantanu Thakur won the 2019 Lok Sabha elections on a BJP ticket. After joining the party, he assured BJP of significant Matua votes as the leader of All India Matua Federation. His name’s inclusion in PM Modi’s council of ministers is very important as Matua vote bank played an important role in BJP’s victory in 2019. Amidst the CAA-NRC controversy, he was promised citizenship by the central government. With the 2024 Lok Sabha elections, the inclusion of the Matua community in the Union Council of Ministers may not only benefit them politically but they are also being assured that the promise of granting them citizenship will also be negated. In this way, those members of the Matua community, who are apprehensive of going to the Trinamool Congress, can also be removed.
Nisith Pramanik, who won the 2019 Lok Sabha elections on a BJP ticket from Cooch Behar, was a former TMC colleague before joining the party in March 2019. He enjoys a steady following from Rajbanshi, who was instrumental in his 2019 victory.
John Barla, Lok Sabha MP from Alipurduar was elected in 2019 after joining BJP in 2014. He recently courted controversy in the state after backing the separatist claims of a new state for North Bengal. The talk got so much that many Gorkha groups of Darjeeling as well as the people of Dalit Rajbanshi community in many areas of North Bengal started raising their voice again about the age-old demands for their separate state.
On the other hand, when we talk about the leaders of North Bengal like John Barla and Nishith Pramanik, we get to see clearly how in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections as well as the recent assembly elections, the ruling TMC party was left behind. BJP MP from Bankura Subhash Sarkar was elected in 2019. The Doctor Sarkar in Bankura represents a large backward caste and tribal population.
Where Shantunu Thakur got a chance to become the Minister of State for the Ministry of Ports, Shipping and Waterways. John Barla became Minister of State in the Ministry of Minority Affairs. On the other hand, Nishith Pramanik was given the post of Minister of State in the Union Ministry of Home Affairs and Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports and Subhash Sarkar became Minister of State in the Ministry of Education.
Why is Matua Vote Bank so special?
Political parties in West Bengal try to woo voters of all castes especially ST, SC and OBC voters. The Matua community is at the center of this vote bank politics. Matuas are a scheduled caste community with a population of about 3 crores spread over districts like North 24 Parganas, South 24 Parganas and Nadia. The community plays an important role in deciding the winning candidates in about 50-70 assembly constituencies.
The BJP won four of the 10 scheduled caste seats in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections by capturing the votes of the Matua community on the basis of the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA). Therefore, to win the 2024 Lok Sabha elections, the BJP wants to make the vote bank of this community in its favor.
2021 assembly elections
Looking at the figures of 2021 assembly elections, it is known that in all these areas, BJP has won more votes than Trinamool Congress. In Coochbehar North assembly segment, BJP candidate Sukumar Roy won by 120,483 votes (49.4 per cent) over TMC candidate Binay Krishna Barman (105,868 votes, 43.4 per cent).
In Coochbehar South, BJP candidate Nikhil Ranjan De (91,560 votes, 46.83 per cent) won over TMC’s Avijit De Bhowmik (86629 votes, 44.31 per cent). BJP candidate Suman Kanjilal declared victory in Alipurduar assembly constituency by defeating TMC candidate Saurav Chakraborty by 107,333 votes (48.19 per cent). Sourav got 91,326 votes i.e. 41 percent of the votes. BJP candidate Ashok Kirtaniya became MLA in Bango North region by 97,761 votes (47.65%) defeating Shyamal Roy (87,273 votes, 42.54%) of Trinamool Congress.
In Bango Dakhshin constituency, BJP candidate Swapan Majumdar became MLA from 97828 wonto (47.07%) defeating Aalo Ranu Sarkar of Trinamool Congress (95824 votes, 46.11%). Even in Bankura Woodhan Sabha constituency, TMC had to accept defeat at the hands of BJP. While BJP candidate Niladri Shekhar Dana got 95,466 votes (43.79%) votes, TMC’s VIP candidate Sayantika Banerjee got 93998 votes (43.12%).
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