Eye on Bengal Polls, Amit Shah Has Lunch at House of a Matua Family During State Visit

2 weeks ago 3

Union Home Minister Amit Shah on Friday paid a visit to a Matua household in Baguihati in the northern fringes of the city and had his lunch there. Before reaching the residence of Nabin Biswas, a member of the community, Shah went to a temple of the Matuas in the locality where he spent some time.

Accompanied by BJP national general secretary Kailash Vijayvergiya, BJP national vice-president Mukul Roy and state party chief Dilip Ghosh, Shah had his lunch sitting on the floor of Nabin Biswas' two-storied house at Gauranganagar area. The BJP veteran leader had vegetarian Bengali food served on a plate with a banana leaf on it.

Party sources said he had a spread of roti, cholar (chana) dal, rice, shukto (a famed Bengali dish of stewed vegetables which is slightly bitter), moong dal, fried brinjal, chutney rounded off with nolen gurer payesh (rice pudding with date palm jaggery). All the six members of the Biswas family had lunch with Shah.

"I am very happy to host the union home minister at my home. It's an honour for us," said Biswas, who along with five other members of his family went through COVID-19 tests before Shah's visit as a precautionary measure. A tight security blanket was thrown in the area in view of the BJP leader's visit and all shops were closed before he reached it.

After lunch Shah interacted with the family members and a few other members of the Matua community living in the area, party sources said. Shah is on a two-day tour to the state to take stock of the party's organisation before the 2021 assembly polls in West Bengal due in April-May. Friday is the final day of his tour to the state.

The Matua community, which belongs to a caste of cultivators, has a population of over three crores in West Bengal and is considered important in the state's polarised politics. The community traces its ancestry to erstwhile East Bengal, now Bangladesh. They relocated after Partition and after the formation of Bangladesh to West Bengal districts of North and South 24 Parganas, Nadia, Malda and Coochbehar in an area spread over at least 74 assembly constituencies.

Politically most members of the community are known to be Trinamool Congress supporters. However, in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections the BJP had snatched two Matua dominated constituencies -- Bangaon and Ranaghat from the TMC. The Citizenship (Amendment) Bill had been the trump card for the BJP in winning the two seats.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi had visited and touched the feet of 'Baro Ma' the community's matriarch in February 2019 when a raucous debate was raging in the country over the Bill.

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