ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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The Fragile Discourse of Caste in West Bengal

The objective of this article is to put forward a modest hypothesis to test, namely “to politicise caste in Bengal, it needs to be taken out from the fold of Hindu religion.” The category needs to be mobilised and radicalised through the active participation of lower-caste groups across the state. To do this, the proliferation of sociocultural organisations is necessary whose prime concern would be to stretch the logic of caste in the political domain, whereas caste has hitherto taken only a comfortable refuge in the Hinduised domain of the Bengal social.

The author is thankful to the anonymous referee who read the article and gave them some new perspectives to rethink the major points argued in this article.

Political trends until 2019 suggested that West Bengal (WB) was gradu­al­ly becoming the breeding ground for more Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) members. The BJP was performing well even in comparison to Uttar Pradesh (UP), in terms of winning support from the public. Apart from their victory in 18 Lok Sabha seats, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) claimed that there happened to be an upsurge in the opening of RSS shakhas by 70.5% since 2013 (Indian Express 2018).

During the 2021 assembly elections, voting trends among the Scheduled Castes (SCs), Scheduled Tribes (STs), and Other Backward Classes (OBCs) completely altered in comparison to the 2019 general elections. The vote share of the Trinamool Congress (TMC) increased from 27% to 36% among OBCs, from 24% to 42% among STs, and from 8% to 32% among Raj­banshis, an SC group. Interestingly, their vote share has reduced among Namashudras from 38% to 31%, suggesting the BJP’s success in wooing the community along the lines of the Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA). If we compare the voting trends of the 2019 and 2021 assembly elections in WB, it can be concluded that oppressed castes in the state are not at all predictable while exercising their electoral agency (Sardesai 2021). Apart from this viewpoint, there are a few important factors that are constantly providing a fertile ground for the BJP’s rise in WB.

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Updated On : 20th Feb, 2023
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