The legacy of Binapani Devi has become a point of contention between two factions of the Matua community with the demise of its matriarch. “Who will head the Matua Mahasangha now” is the question that is doing the rounds.
The All India Matua Mahasangha held a meeting on Thursday evening and it was decided that Mamata Bala Thakur will act as the main adviser of the Mahasangha for the time being. She is the Sanghadhipati of Matua Mahasangha.
Shantanu Thakur, head of a pro-BJP faction of the community, said only a true descendant of Binapani Devi must head the Matua community.
“As per our laws, if there is no direct descendant of Hari Chad Thakur, then the followers of Matua community will decide who will head the Mahasangha. If there is a direct descendant of Hari Chad Thakur, then he will become the Sanghadhipati. The All India Matua Mahasangha will decide on the permanent face of the community once the memorial service in honour of Boro Maa is done,” Shantanu Thakur said.
Both the factions backed by the Trinamool Congress (TMC) and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) are trying hard to get hold of the Mahasangha, which has its influence on over 1.5 crore people across several districts in West Bengal. The Matua community also has a large support base in six parliamentary constituencies in North 24 Parganas and Nadia districts. According to political observers, the support or Matua community will be a crucial determining factor in these seats.
“I will accept the decision of the Mahasangha,” said Mamata Bala Thakur, TMC MP from Bongaon Lok Sabha constituency.
Last month, Shantanu Thakur helped organise Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s rally in Thakurnagar. Ahead of the rally, Modi met Boro Maa and took her blessings. A few days later, the TMC organised public meeting on the same ground, where Modi’s rally was held.
There are speculations that Binapani Devi’s grandson Shantanu Thakur might contest the Lok Sabha elections against his aunt Mamata Bala Thakur on a BJP ticket, turning the family feud into a political fight.
When asked, Shantanu Thakur did not deny it and said, “I have not taken a decision in this regard. But I believe that Matua family members must help its followers participate in politics. Matuas must actively remain in politics and the Thakurbari should stand by them.”
The BJP said that it was for the central leadership of the party to decide on the candidates. “We have submitted our list of candidates. The final decision rests with the central leadership,” said West Bengal BJP president Dilip Ghosh. Sources in the TMC said Mamata Bala Thakur will contest from Bongaon to retain her seat.