CHIRANG: Union home minister Amit Shah will soon head to Chirang district on a ‘private visit’ to meet Ananta Rai, who heads a faction of the Greater Cooch Behar Peoples’ Association (GCPA).
Rai claims to be a descendant of the Koch-Rajbangshi dynasty that ruled over parts of Assam and West Bengal and resides in a palatial house at Satipur village in Chirang.
It needs mention here that the GCPA, which has given Rai the moniker of ‘Maharaj’, has been demanding the creation of a separate state or autonomous body for their people and terms the inclusion of Cooch Behar district in West Bengal as “violation of treaty” signed on August 28, 1949 between the union government and Maharaja Jagaddipendra Naryan.
Shah’s visit is seen as an attempt to woo Koch-Rajbongshi voters in poll-bound West Bengal as Rai is said to have considerable influence among the 18.5 lakh Koch-Rajbangshi voters in Assam and West Bengal.
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“Shah will have lunch with Rai and is likely to seek his support for the polls in Assam and West Bengal,”
During his visit, Shah will have lunch at Rai’s house on Thursday and is expected to seek the latter’s support for the coming assembly polls in Assam and West Bengal due in April-May. Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal and senior minister Himanta Biswa Sarma are expected to accompany Shah.
“Amit Shah is coming to have a meal at my place and we all are very happy about it. We will serve him a traditional Koch-Rajbangshi meal and discuss politics,” Rai had told journalists on Tuesday.
Security has been tightened in Chirang ahead of Shah’s visit with central forces sanitizing Rai’s residence in Satipur and areas adjoining it. The Union home minister who visited Assam on January 24 and addressed two rallies doesn’t have any other engagement during this visit.
Koch-Rajbangshis are one of the six communities in Assam that are demanding Scheduled Tribe (ST) status. Since the BJP had promised to grant that, discussion on it is also likely during Shah’s meeting with Rai.
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