Boroma kidnap slur on Trinamul kin

The unease within the family of Matua matriarch Binapani Devi spilled out in the open today with her younger son accusing her daughter-in-law of kidnapping the nonagenarian and one of her grandsons ruing the "imminent destruction" of a socio-religious movement for "petty politics".

By Meghdeep Bhattacharyya
  • Published 14.02.15
  •  
Boroma outside the polling
station. (Partha Sarathi Nandi)

Thakurnagar (North 24-Parganas), Feb. 13: The unease within the family of Matua matriarch Binapani Devi spilled out in the open today with her younger son accusing her daughter-in-law of kidnapping the nonagenarian and one of her grandsons ruing the "imminent destruction" of a socio-religious movement for "petty politics".

From 5.30am this morning, the otherwise serene and staid Thakurbari, the headquarters of the Matua Mahasangha, was abuzz with allegations by Binapani Devi's son Manjul Krishna Thakur that the matriarch had been kidnapped by his sister-in-law Mamatabala Thakur, the Trinamul candidate for the Bongaon Lok Sabha seat.

Manjul Krishna, who quit as minister and defected to the BJP last month, alleged that Mamatabala surreptitiously whisked away Binapani Devi, Boroma to her followers, to garner votes in her name. Manjul Krishna's elder son Subrata is the BJP candidate for the seat.

For the next two-and-a-half hours, despite frantic searches by BJP activists, Boroma, 95, remained untraceable.

Finally, at 8am, she arrived at Thakurnagar RP School, 100 metres from Thakurbari, to vote. She was accompanied by Rajib Das, a Trinamul activist who is the nephew of last year's BJP nominee for the Bongaon constituency, K.D. Biswas.

In response to questions on who she voted, Boroma said: " Kaurey egta disi (I voted for someone)."

Trinamul sources said she had been taken to a "safe house" by Gaighata panchayat samiti vice-president and party leader Dhyanesh Narayan Guha, the arch-rival of Manjul Krishna. The sources said the move was prompted by Subrata's attempts to take "unfair advantage" of Boroma's stature.

Subrata rubbished the claim, saying he simply planned to seek Boroma's blessings.

According to a Trinamul leader, the BJP's Biswas, who is "displeased" with his party for fielding Subrata, had helped in whisking away Boroma and Mamatabala was "in the know".

Mamatabala denied the allegations. "Boroma had gone for a recce of the constituency, something she does on polling days. The BJP backers in our family know her so little that they are unaware of such things," she said.

That there is more disquiet in the family became evident when Manjul Krishna's younger son Santanu said politics was "ruining" the Matua movement. All mainstream parties in the state have been wooing the Matua community, comprising downtrodden Namasudras who had crossed over to India as refugees after the partition.

Santanu warned his relatives of the consequences of getting involved in politics.

"From being kingmakers for decades, we tried to become kings. That was the beginning of the end of our great socio-religious movement spanning two centuries," he said.

According to Santanu, who spent much of his early twenties in Australia along with his elder brother, he was voicing the opinion of a large section of the community.

"I hate not being able to meet my own grandmother, living 10 yards from her. I was her favourite. Her house is cordoned off by 20 police personnel, who tell me she is sick whenever I go to see her. My own aunt (Mamatabala) doesn't speak to me. This is what politics has done to our family," Santanu said.

"I am so sick of this; as are most Matuas. They don't want to see us bickering like this while parties reap political dividends using us as pawns," he told The Telegraph.

Santanu said there had been problems whenever the Thakur family dabbled in politics, reminiscing how a joint movement of the Scheduled Castes and the Matuas suffered a jolt in 1946. That year, following P.R. Thakur's association with the Congress, Jogendranath Mondal of the Bengal Scheduled Caste Federation had made common cause with the Muslim League in its demand for Pakistan, hoping that the SCs would benefit from it.

In 1963, P.R. Thakur resigned from the Congress and it took him till 1986 to revive the Matua Mahasangha.

"I really want this family to learn from the mistakes of '46 and take heed. Petty politics will spell doom for our movement," Santanu said.