KOLKATA (TIP): In a major blow to the ruling Trinamool Congress (TMC) government in West Bengal, minister Manjul Krishna Thakur quit the Cabinet on January 15 and joined the BJP.

Thakur, the Minister for Refugee, Relief and Rehabilitation, joined the saffron party along with his son Subrata, who was also a Trinamool panchayat functionary.

The TMC is already under pressure as the BJP is making inroads into the state’s political scenario and hundreds of ground-level Trinamool workers have switched sides.

Thakur’s resignation is likely to give a jolt the party as he represents the Matua community, which forms a large block of the TMC vote bank.

The Matuas, a community of Hindu refugees who migrated from Bangladesh over the years since partition, have played a major role in the state’s non-BJP vote bank.

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According to analysts, with about a crore voters coming from the community from across seven Assembly constituencies and three districts, Thakur’s departure is likely to hurt the Trinamool’s lot in the polls and could provide a much-needed boost to the BJP. Sources said Manjul Krishna, who acceded to Bongaon Parliamentary seat in a bypoll after it was vacated following the sudden demise of his elder brother Kapil Krishna, has been in talks with the BJP for some time. This is particularly since the ruling Trinamool did not make many moves over amendments in the Citizenship Act, which has been a longstanding demand of the Matuas.

“The Matuas have been demanding official recognition as citizens since many of them have come from Bangladesh after 1951. The BJP has been making noise over that and the Matuas are hoping that Prime Minister Narendra Modi will be able to take some positive steps,” a senior member of the community said. Manjul Krishna, who admitted that he was disgruntled with the TMC for some time, hoped that his son Subrata would also get a nomination for the 2016 Assembly polls from the BJP.

‘No room for good men’

“I failed to work for refugees despite being a minister. The TMC didn’t allow me to work and I resigned as my conscience asked me to. There is no scope for good men in Trinamool,” he said.

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