Matua BJP MLA Asim Sarkar’s quit threat over CAA delay
BJP MLA Asim Sarkar, who belongs to the Matua community, embarrassed the party on Wednesday as he threatened to resign from the Assembly if the Citizenship Amendment Act wasn’t implemented in Bengal at the earliest.
The Haringhata MLA also said he had written to the party’s state general secretary (organisation), Amitava Chakraborty, saying he would not be able to campaign for the BJP in the 2024 general election unless the CAA was implemented.
“I’m ready to quit as an MLA if the CAA isn’t implemented soon. I’ve already written to Amitavada and informed him that I’ll not be able to seek votes from the Hindu refugee families for the general election if the act isn’t implemented before 2024,” Sarkar told The Telegraph.
Sarkar’s scathing remarks come at a time when the BJP is struggling to tide over intra-party feuds and criticism from within the party following repeated poll debacles in the state.
Sarkar also said he had informed Opposition leader Suvendu Adhikari about reasons for being upset.
On Wednesday, Sarkar attended a Matua event in Nilgunge near Barrackpore in North 24-Parganas. Several key members of the community, including junior Union minister and chief of the All India Matua Mahasangha, Santanu Thakur, were present.
Speaking to journalists on the sidelines of the meeting, Sarkar said if the implementation of the CAA was delayed further by the Centre, Matuas would hit the streets. Trying to convey the message of the importance of Matuas for the BJP, Sarkar said the community had helped the party win at least 10 Assembly seats and one Lok Sabha constituency.
Sarkar also said the negative attitude of the state government was a hindrance in implementing CAA.
“Mamata Banerjee had lied to Muslims about the CAA. If they create any hurdle in the way of the CAA, crores of Matuas will come out on the streets,” Sarkar said.
The Matuas are a community of lower caste Hindu refugees from Bangladesh who have been fighting for citizenship rights in India for a long time. They have been supporters of the BJP since the 2019 general election after the party promised to fulfill their demands.
The Telegraph spoke to a number of senior Matua leaders, including Santanu Thakur, but they refused to admit that what Sarkar said was the official stand of the Mahasangha. However, all of them unequivocally said his concern was “genuine”.
Sources claimed that there was “extreme pressure” on the organisation from members. A large section of Matuas who had visited Thakurnagar, the headquarters of the Mahasangha, on the occasion of Matua Maha Dharma Mela last month had asked the leadership about the delay in the implementation of the CAA.
Bongaon MP Thakur said: “The issue raised by Asim babu has not been brought to the organisational level in recent times. But since the demand for the implementation of CAA has been pending for a long time, many of us have no reply to the questions asked by our people.”
“We are answerable to our bhakts. But in the absence of any reply, it is not unnatural for anyone to vent their anger….,” Thakur said.