Shantanu Thakur, who entered politics due to a family feud, is one of the most influential leaders of the politically important Matua community of Bengal. Shantanu Thakur (38) is a Lok Sabha member from the Bangaon parliamentary seat. He took oath as the Union Minister on Wednesday evening. He is one of the successors of the influential socio-religious sect Thakurbari.
Shantanu is the eldest son of former Trinamool Congress minister Manjul Krishna Thakur. He worked for the development of the Matua community through various social services run by Thakurbari in Thakurnagar and he was never active in politics. Here, the people of the community are happy with his inclusion in the Union Cabinet. The Matua community, like other minorities, is a vote bank that political parties have been trying to woo since the 90s due to their tendency to vote collectively.
Trinamool chief Mamata Banerjee had nominated Manjul Thakur as a candidate in 2011 and included her in her council of ministers as a state minister. Manjul's elder brother Kapil Krishna Thakur was nominated as a Trinamool candidate in 2014 from the Bangaon Lok Sabha seat, which he won easily, but Kapil Krishna died suddenly in October 2014. After this a family feud started between Kapil Krishna's wife Mamta Bala Thakur and her brother-in-law Manjul Krishna.
Manjul wanted his youngest son Subrata Thakur to be nominated by the party for the by-election from the Bangaon seat, but the party leadership nominated Mamata instead. Angered by this, Manjul left the state cabinet to join the BJP. Subrata contested this seat in February 2015 on a BJP ticket but finished third. Manjul Krishna returned to the Trinamool a few months later, but did not get the ministry and the party's affairs in the area were handed over to the newly elected MP from Bangaon, Mamta Bala, but when Manjul Krishna was not given a ticket in the 2016 assembly elections and moved to Thakurbari. Being sidelined due to internal politics over control, Shantanu begins to form ties with the saffron party.
A socio-religious meeting of the Matua community was addressed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in February 2019, following which Shantanu decided to engage in active politics and within a month he was nominated from the Bongaon Lok Sabha seat. Shantanu defeated Apni Tai from this seat and became one of the important leaders of BJP in the state.
In the recent assembly elections, the Matua community did not vote for any one party as before and their votes were split between the ruling Trinamool and the BJP. The induction of Shantanu in the Union ministry is being seen as an attempt to woo the Matua community ahead of the 2024 general elections. Shantanu has been made Minister of State for Shipping.
Category: India: West Bengal