Kolkata: The Bharatiya Janata Occasion (BJP), which is all set to ship its first consultant from West Bengal to the Rajya Sabha, has picked as its candidate Anant Maharaj, an influential determine from north Bengal who has helped the social gathering win elections however can be an advocate for a separate Cooch Behar state.
Heading a faction of the Better Cooch Behar Folks’s Affiliation (GCPA, a physique in search of statehood for Cooch Behar), Anant Rai adopted the ‘Maharaj’ title about 20 years in the past. He belongs to the Rajbanshi neighborhood or the Koch-Rajbanshis, who account for about 33 lakh of Bengal’s inhabitants, in accordance with the 2011 census.
The Rajbanshis, who’re concentrated in Cooch Behar, Jalpaiguri, Uttar Dinajpur, Darjeeling and Malda districts of north Bengal and Murshidabad in south Bengal, hint their roots to the medieval Kamta kingdom unfold throughout present-day West Bengal, Assam, Meghalaya, Bihar, Bangladesh and Nepal.
A separate state of Cooch Behar comprising the north Bengal districts and elements of decrease Assam has been a long-standing demand of the GCPA faction led by Maharaj.
Confirming his nomination, Maharaj informed ThePrint Wednesday, “I’ve accepted BJP’s Rajya Sabha ticket and am comfortable. Dwelling Minister Amit Shah spoke to me over the cellphone on Tuesday, the day Nisith Pramanik (Minister of State, Dwelling) got here to my residence.”
Nonetheless, when ThePrint requested him if he would proceed to demand a separate state, Maharaj mentioned it wasn’t the best time to speak about it as he was busy together with his nomination paperwork.
In the meantime, justifying his social gathering’s choose, Pramanik informed the media in Cooch Behar, “We would like a illustration of individuals’s voices from north Bengal and that’s why we now have picked Anant Maharaj. He gained’t simply converse on behalf of Cooch Behar however all of Bengal.”
The TMC mentioned Maharaj’s nomination was a part of the BJP’s ‘Bengal bifurcation agenda’. Talking to ThePrint, TMC state vice-president Pleasure Prakash Majumdar mentioned, “Anant Maharaj is just not a BJP member. He needs a division of Bengal and the BJP picked him. He might be made a Cupboard minister within the reshuffle additionally.”
“Going by the panchayat ballot outcomes, the BJP has misplaced floor in nearly each district of north Bengal,” he added. The TMC swept the panchayat polls in West Bengal this week.
In the meantime, political observers say this transfer might price the BJP later. “Anant Maharaj has an agenda for a separate state of north Bengal. This may create bother for Bengal BJP in the long term because the TMC has stood in opposition to separate statehood,” political analyst Udayan Bandopadhyay mentioned to ThePrint.
Political analyst Snigdhendu Bhattacharya mentioned Anant Maharaj’s selection may very well be a bonus for the TMC. “By selecting Anant Maharaj, the BJP is making an attempt to ship a message that they’re targeted on north Bengal. However he has been a powerful advocate of Bengal’s bifurcation, which the TMC will use in opposition to the BJP…(in spite of everything), south Bengal has 34 Lok Sabha seats however the BJP didn’t choose anybody from there,” he mentioned.
Six Rajya Sabha seats from West Bengal, together with two seats every in Gujarat and Goa, will go to polls on 24 July. Whereas the Trinamool Congress is about to retain 5, the BJP, with 70 seats within the West Bengal meeting, will handle one RS seat.
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Rajbanshis & Bengal politics
Rajbanshis, listed as a Scheduled Caste, have a maintain in about seven of Bengal’s 42 Lok Sabha seats and 15 meeting segments in West Bengal. They account for an estimated 30 % of north Bengal’s inhabitants.
With Anant Maharaj’s backing, the BJP swept all seven seats within the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, together with minister Pramanik’s in Cooch Behar.
Within the 2021 meeting elections, the BJP grabbed 30 of the 54 meeting seats on this area regardless of a Trinamool tide.
In 2021, the central authorities conferred the Padma Shri to retired Rajbanshi instructor Dharma Narayan Barma.
Through the years, the TMC has additionally sought to woo the Rajbanshis. In 2012, the Trinamool authorities arrange Cooch Behar Panchanan Barma College, named after the Nineteenth-century Rajbanshi social reformist. The Mamata Banerjee authorities additionally declared Panchanan Barma’s delivery anniversary on 14 February a vacation.
In 2020, Mamata Banerjee introduced the formation of a separate police battalion, ‘Narayani Battalion’ of Cooch Behar, ostensibly fulfilling a requirement of north Bengal.
(Edited by Smriti Sinha)
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