Thakurnagar: Even before Amit Shah’s helicopter touched down at Thakurnagar helipad, some two kilometres away from the venue, the buzz was that Union home minister Amit Shah would make some big announcement.
Since morning the crowd had been gathering at the ground on Thursday. BJP supporters, sympathisers and some hardcore members were seen reaching the venue in truckloads. In whatever capacity, they might have come, they were all keen to see the Union minister, who had been to many of the neighbouring districts but not in Thakurnagar.
A jhalmuri (puffed rice with spices) vendor, who had arrived at the venue much in advance for some quick business, was happy because of his brisk sale but also that he heard Amit Shah speak. He said he will now proudly proclaim to his fellow hawkers that he has seen Amit Shah ‘up close’.
When the news filtered in that the chopper had landed and Shah would be there any moment, the crowd got restless. They wanted to hear what announcement will Shah make. After all, this is election time and many leaders would promise a lot of things to them.
The Matuas are an important section of minorities for both the TMC and the BJP as they can only neglect the more than three crore population at their own peril. The Matuas are the main deciding factors of most of the constituencies in North 24-Parganas.
People from the Matua community have always been divided in their support for the ruling TMC and the main opposition, the BJP. A section of Matuas, in favour of the BJP, are hopeful that the saffron party will implement the CAA and give them citizenship, while the other wanted NRC to be implemented instead of CAA.
People like the local cloth shop owner, Ratnakar, a great fan of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, wanted to see Modi in action instead of Shah.
A section of the overwhelming crowd was jubilant that the Union home minister had promised CAA implementation but few others were left crestfallen to note that Shah had put a rider – post vaccination.
Many, believing that the announcement to buy time was just a poll plank, started moving out. Critical of the Centre, they believed that by the time whole of India gets inoculated, 2024 Lok Sabha elections would be close by.
Rabindranath Haldar, claiming to be a BJP supporter, said that CAA is just a poll plank and is spoken only ahead of elections. “Will we ever get our Indian citizenship?” he wondered aloud. He said he is confused.
Haldar said that CAA was talked even ahead of Lok Sabha elections in 2019. He said the chief minister always insists that we are the citizen of this country as we have proper photo identity cards that prove we are Indians.
Hari Narayan Munshi stated right after forming the central government, for the second time, the BJP said that the minorities will not have any place in India and will be sent back to Bangladesh. Today, Shah stating that the minorities should not be worried. It is hogwash and nothing else.
“Mamata Banerjee has done a lot for our Boroma and also gave her due respect during her last rites. Mamata had done a lot to uplift Matua Mahasangha. Our MP Shantanu always wanted CAA but even his pleading is not being heard by the Centre,” Munshi further said.
It now remains to be seen which way the votes swing during polls.