BJP’s Bengal blueprint threatens the hegemony of ‘bhadralok’

Matua community, BJP, Bengal, Trinamool
The Matua community in West Bengal, with their influential population, hold a strong political that the BJP and Trinamool look to tap | Image - Eunice Dhivya

Around 65 kilometres northeast of Kolkata near the Indo-Bangladesh border lies Thakurnagar, a small dusty town with its narrow roads criss-crossing densely populated localities flanked by haphazard and prosaic structures.

The mundaneness of the place, however, belies its present political importance which has drawn to itself during recent elections bigwigs such as Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee.

The town in North 24 Parganas district takes its name from Harichand Thakur, a spiritual leader and a social reformer who started the Matua movement among the so-called backward Namasudra community in present-day Bangladesh in the mid-19th century against Brahminical domination.

After the partition of India, Harichand’s great grandson Pramatha Ranjan Thakur founded the settlement as a Namasudra refugee colony in 1947-48.

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