In an embarrassment to the BJP, Union Minister and prominent member of the Matua community, Shantanu Thakur has quit all WhatsApp groups of the party.
Confirming it, Mr Thakur, the union minister of state for shipping, Tuesday told reporters: “It seems the state BJP leadership does not think we (Matuas) have an important role within the organisation.”.
He also wondered if he has any importance in the BJP state unit any more.
Mr Thakur, who refused to say anything else, did not take phone calls by PTI.
He is the Sanghadhipati, All India Matua Mahasangha, an influential Matua community body.
The Bongaon MP had a few days back voiced his reservation against the omission of some MLAs of the Matua community in the reconstitued BJP state and district committees. He had, however, said he will be loyal to the party.
Reacting to the development, BJP state president Sukanta Majumdar said, “We will sort out any misunderstanding with Shantanu Thakur. He is very much a part of the BJP parivar.” When asked to comment, Trinamool Congress Rajya Sabha MP Sukhendu Sekhar Roy told reporters that the BJP had used Matua community for its own electoral gains.
“But it (BJP) was not concerned about their real development. It is clear now,” he added.
Over a week ago five BJP MLAs — Mukutmoni Adhikari, Subrata Thakur, Ambica Roy, Asok Kirtania and Asim Sarkar had expressed their displeasure over their omission from the state party committee and left the WhatsApp group of MLAs of the saffron party.
Mr Adhikari had said that the aspirations of the people of his constituency may not get fulfilled under the newly formed BJP state committee.
Subrata Thakur and Kirtania had refused to cite any reason for quitting the WhatsApp group.
Mr Roy had, however, expressed the wish to rejoin the BJP WhatsApp group on December 27, two days after quitting it and said he would sort out any difference with the party.
A politically significant and sizeable community, the Matuas are split into the BJP and TMC camps.
The community has considerable clout in at least four Lok Sabha seats and 30-40 assembly seats in Nadia, North and South 24 Parganas districts.
The scheduled caste Hindu community had migrated to West Bengal during partition and have significant presence in North 24 Parganas and Nadia districts among others.
The community was wooed by the ruling TMC in the state and BJP alike before the state election and Prime Minister Narendra Modi had even visited Orakandi, the ancestral village of the sect’s founder Harichand Thakur during his March 2021 visit to Bangladesh.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)