With death of a matriarch Binapani Debi, 1.5 crore Matua votes up for grabs -Abantika Ghosh

-The Indian Express

There are at least six parliamentary constituencies — Krishnanagar, Ranaghat, Barrackpore, Barasat, Bongaon and Coochbehar — where the Vaishnavite sect has the numbers to swing results.

When 100-year-old Binapani Debi was declared dead at 8.52 pm on Tuesday evening at SSKM Hospital in Kolkata, Mamata Banerjee was among the first to reach the hospital. With Trinamool MP and Debi’s daughter-in-law Mamatabala Thakur by her side, the Chief Minister left six ministers in charge of the funeral, which was conducted with full state honours on Thursday.

Within minutes of Debi’s death, Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted a photo of his meeting last month with the Matua matriarch. “Boro Maa Binapani Thakur was an icon of our times. Her emphasis on social justice and harmony will never be forgotten… I will always cherish the interaction I had with her,” Modi wrote.

The importance of ‘Boromaa’ Binapani Debi, whose word is said to be sacrosanct among the 1.5 crore voters of the Matua Mahashangha, a Hindu sect of the OBC (Namashudra community), cannot be overstated in these times — with the state headed for elections and where the BJP and Trinamool Congress have locked horns in a bitter battle.

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The Indian Express, 8 March, 2019, https://indianexpress.com/elections/with-death-of-a-matriarch-binapani-debi-1-5-crore-matua-votes-up-for-grabs-5616454/

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