Monday 17 January 2022
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Union minister Shantanu Thakur quits Bengal BJP WhatsApp groups, fuels gossips

Union Minister of State for Ports, Shipping and Waterways Shantanu Thakur has left all groups of the BJP’s West Bengal unit, leading to speculation that he might quit the party. Thakur, who quit all WhatsApp groups of the Bengal BJP, is learnt to have expressed his displeasure with the recent organisational reshuffle in the state BJP among his close quarters.

According to sources close to Thakur, the union minister feels the Matua community — displaced Scheduled Caste Bengalis who have struggled to get state documents of identification for decades — and its leaders have been ignored by the BJP. In the recent reshuffle in Bengal BJP where MP Sukanta Majumder took charge from MP Dilip Ghosh, no prominent from the Matua community got any important post.

Yesterday, five BJP MLAs — Mukutmoni Adhikari, Subrata Thakur, Ambica Roy, Asok Kirtania and Asim Sarkar — expressed their displeasure over their omission from the West Bengal party committee and left the group of BJP MLAs. They then met Thakur at his house in Bongaon. However, none has left the party so far.

The leaders have asked for representation of the Matuas in state BJP’s primary controlling unit.

This is not the first time the BJP MP from Bongaon has expressed his unhappiness with the party. He has spoken out several times last year over the delay in implementation of the CAA.

When communist and Muslim protests against the CAA was at its peak, Prime Minister Modi and Union Home Minister Amit Shah had tried to turn the tide in the government’s favour by saying the regime had amended the 1955 law primarily for Dalits. Indeed, a large section of refugees who flee Islamic persecution in and Bangladesh belong to different Scheduled Castes.

In order to placate the union minister, who is an influential Matua community leader, central BJP leaders like Kailash Vijayvargiya met him last year. But Vijayvargiya does not seem to enjoy the authority or have the leadership quality to steer the party out of this mess, say journalists of the region. Veteran BJP and former governor in quite a few states Tathagata Roy often makes fun of the Madhya Pradesh leader on Twitter. He had famously posted a photo of Vijayvargiya with Mukul Roy in the same frame the day the latter went back to the Trinamool Congress.

Anyway, Thakur eventually became a union minister at the time of the last cabinet reshuffle by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Answering speculations of leaving the BJP, the five disgruntled MLAs from West Bengal claimed that the next course of action would depend on whether their grievance is addressed to their satisfaction. Sources say the union minister stands in solidarity with them.

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