For lengthy, what made West Bengal politics distinct from different states was the “class issue” and never the “caste issue”. The Left, which dominated the state for a very good 34 years, nurtured an electoral mobilisation generated on the premise of “class”, i.e. the wealthy and poor or haves and have nots.
This ensured that not like different states, the citizens in Bengal voted extra on social gathering reasonably than caste loyalties. This modified in 2011 when the Mamata Banerjee-led Trinamool Congress romped dwelling to victory, leaving the Left in tatters.
That election additionally noticed the rise of the Matua neighborhood as a vote financial institution. Numerically vital in a number of South Bengal districts, the neighborhood threw its weight behind Mamata, aiding the Trinamool sweep. The Matua Mahasangha, representatives of the backward caste “namasudras” in Bengal, asserted itself politically and altered current caste equations within the state to some extent.
After turning into chief minister in 2011, Mamata might not have consciously cultivated caste identities as a political weapon, however she did attain out to numerous communities in numerous components of the state who have been a part of the subaltern within the earlier regimes.
Along with her reputation and ease of connecting with individuals within the subaltern part, Mamata might have highlighted, and offered for them to some extent, however ultimately, the identical transfer pushed the emergence of micro caste teams.
BJP beating Mamata at her personal sport?
Below the management of Narendra Modi and Amit Shah, BJP has discovered the caste teams created by Trinamool’s efforts as probably the greatest ammunition to hit Mamata again.
For the reason that early 1990s, the BJP and RSS have been eyeing the tribals, particularly in North Bengal, and OBCs to ascertain a political footprint within the state. A lot of this has been performed by means of welfare establishments for these teams, equivalent to Vanvasi Kalyan Ashrams and Shishu Mandirs (single-teacher faculties for youngsters from 3-Eight years). Veteran RSS pracharaks have been tasked with overseeing these actions.
Bengal has not borne the type of caste conflicts as witnessed within the Hindi heartland or in a number of South Indian states, most likely as a result of affect of social reformers equivalent to Ram Mohan Roy, Sri Chaitanya, Swami Vivekananda, Ramakrishna Paramahamsa, Vidyasagar, amongst others, and the 19th century Bengali Renaissance.
There are, nevertheless, a number of sub-castes and social classes just like the Matua neighborhood. There are about 62 OBC teams within the state. The Rajbongshis of North Bengal have been combating for a separate identification for a very long time. Mamata as chief minister has recognized and addressed most of those segments, together with Sheikhs amongst Muslims and Lepchas in Darjeeling, other than Gorkhas.
The Rajbongshis are scheduled castes and numerically vital in North Bengal, particularly in Cooch Behar district. Mamata has lately introduced two separate boards for them, together with Rs 25 crore for the neighborhood’s upliftment.
Probably the most essential Rajbongshi leaders, Ananta Rai Maharaj, is now with the BJP. The Trinamool is making an attempt to isolate him with the assistance of different neighborhood leaders. The social gathering can be making an attempt to succeed in out to tribals with the promise of defending their beliefs.
RSS-backed establishments have been working amongst a few of these teams whereas Mamata was caught up in working the state. And as we speak, the fault strains are huge open.
Union dwelling minister Amit Shah’s current go to to a Baul (people) singer’s home and listening to his songs, and having meals at a Dalit family are all a part of the BJP’s outreach.