गुरुवार, 18 दिसंबर 2014

I was not wrong as the latest Matua communique accuses BJP leadership not to comply with the assurance to break the indefinite hunger strike demanding citizenship.



Matua Delegation heads to New Delhi to demand citizenship for the Hindu Bengali Refugees,the partition victims.

I was not wrong as the latest Matua communique accuses BJP leadership not to comply with the assurance to break the indefinite hunger strike demanding citizenship.

Rather RSS is playing the Matua Master Card to dislodge Mamata Banerjee.
Palash Biswas


Matua Delegation heads to New Delhi to demand citizenship for Hindu Bengali Refugees,the partition victims.

I have no liability to be politically correct.In fact,the Harichand Guruchand dynasty has something to do with my blood ,identity.My Jethima,senior auntie happened to be a sister of late Kapil Krishna Tahkur.Kapil Krishna Thakur accompanied Matua mother Bina Pani devi while she visited our home at Basantipur in Uttarakhand during sixties while Basantipur was the center of Matua Mahotsav thanks to late Lalit Gusai,my eleder brother who considered my late uncle Dr Sudhir Biswas his God Father.

Late Kapil Krishna Thakur always respected the relationship and Bina Pani devi always remembered whenever I visited Thakur Badi.

In fact,my late father Pulin Babu had a good relationship with late PR Thakur.Despite he was known follower of Babasaheb as well as  a committed supporter of late Jogendranath Mandal a,the celebrated opponent of PR Thakur who was the mastermind to elect DR BR Ambedkar to the constituent Assembly to head the draft committee for Indian constitution and for which PR Thakur and his family never did forgive either Jogendra Nath Mandal or DR BR Ambedkar.

I would be rather happy to see Subrata Thakur who happens to be my brother in relation provided the latest version of the Thakur dynasty recognises or remembers it.


But I have nothing to do with Matua Politics which deviated from Matua movement,the milestone agrarian insurrection against Hindutva in this ASURA land.

I had been warning against the role of RSS practicing brutal apartheid against all non Aryan landscape and highlighting the plight of the Bengali Partition Victim Hindu Refugees subjected to deportation and pointed out quite clearly how those who came just five years back from Pakistan get citizenship against the provision of RSS amended citizenship Act and for whom the Act has to be amended once again.

While Bengali refugees settled since 1947 have been branded as illegal immigrants.

Though Narendra Bhai Modi declared to consider all Hindu Refugees as refugees and promised to grant them citizenship to polarise politics of vertical religious dividing line to get the helms of the nation to accomplish the unfulfilled neo Nazi tasks of Hindu Imperialism linked with zionism as well as dollar hegemony.But he has denied citizenship to the Bengali partition victims,the Non Aryan lot,mostly untouchable, excluded and excommunicated.

Thus,I criticised the Matua leaders while they decided to withdraw the hunger strike after a close door meeting of district and provincial unnoteworthy leaders from RSS and BJP and believed that the BJP regime was going to grant them citizenship.

It was not to be.

I was not wrong as the latest Matua communique accuses BJP leadership not to comply with the assurance to break the indefinite hunger strike demanding citizenship.

Rather RSS is playing the Matua Master Card to dislodge Mamata Banerjee.

It is quite an irony that Guruchand Thakur launched the Chandal movement along with his followers and the united Bahujan samaj in united Bengal which is rather intact to this date in the other side of the political border to abolish untouchability in Bengal and Untouchability was prohibited in Bengal way back in 1911,much before Dr BR Ambedkar launched his crusade against the Caste economics of the ruling hegemony.

Guruchand Thakur,the son of Harichand Thakur who was the leader in Indigo revolt and launched the first renaissance in Indian geopolitics declaring a war against Brahmin Dharam and Vedic rituals banning the Purohit in Bahujan samaj and launched a widow marriage campaign and got his own nephew married to a widow.He launched the first education movement and not only this,he was the first man to demand land reforms on Indian soil.Guruchand was the man who was behind Jogendra Nath Mandal`s Political avtar from Barishal.

Nevertheless, I rate Matua Movement as the fountainhead of Indian Agrarian Uprisings and I support Matua intiatives in the best interest of our people irrespective of the suicidal Matua politics.

On the other hand,the fact is daylight clear to expose the so much so hyped Hindutva agenda in which our glorious history of Matua movement is divested.

Just assess the quality of racial discrimination while Bengali Hindu Refugees settled in India since 1947 remain non citizens moble Vote Bank equation which changes the colour in accordance with the latest colour of Power Politics just because of sustenance,the Home Ministry is planning a package which includes private jobs for Hindu and Sikh refugees from Pakistan who have migrated to India along with a fast-track process for Indian citizenship.
Decisions to this effect could be unveiled in form of a policy by the Home Ministry on December 23 when a meeting is scheduled with representative associations especially of minority communities from neighbouring countries to address their grievances related to grant of Long Term Visa (LTV) and Indian Citizenship.

"A proposal for helping these minorities -- which comprise mainly Hindus and Sikhs -- to get private jobs in India so that they can sustain their families who have migrated with them from Pakistan fearing religious persecution. Powers will be delegated to junior foreign registration officials to extend and give long-term visas to such refugees and a time-bound process is being put in place for expeditious grant of Indian citizenship to them," a senior home ministry official told ET on Monday.
Additional Secretary (Foreigners) in the MHA will hold a meeting with representatives from nearly ten such associations on December 23, 2014 to discuss problems being faced by minority communities from neighbouring countries in grant of LTV and Citizenship. They will also be explained the procedure for grant of LTV and Indian Citizenship, the ministry says.
Upon directions from the Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh, the MHA had set up of a Task Force under the Joint Secretary (Foreigners) to monitor and expedite processing of Citizenship and LTV applications, on September 05, 2014. The Task Force has since held interactive sessions in a number of cities across the country having concentrations of such people to monitor and expedite grant of Citizenship/LTV and addressed public grievances.
MHA had received representations from time to time citing hardships and difficulties in grant of LTV/Citizenship applicants, especially of minorities from neighbouring countries who are often of poor economic standing. Reviewing the procedure, the Union Home Minister had directed senior officials in the MHA to expedite the entire process.



Mind you, what Times of India reported in September just before Matua Hunger strike:

NEW DELHI: Seeking to facilitate Pakistani Hindus wanting to stay back in India for fear of religious persecution back home, the Union home ministry has constituted a taskforce that will monitor and expedite processing of citizenship and long term visa applications for such applicants.

The taskforce, to be headed by joint secretary (foreigners) in the home ministry, will start its work in two weeks.

"Union home minister Rajnath Singh reviewed matters relating to grant of citizenship that takes a long time for completion of the entire process. This causes hardship and difficulties to applicants, especially to minorities from neighbouring countries who are often of poor economic standing," a home ministry release said on Friday. Stating that the ministry had received several representations in this regard, it announced approval of a taskforce for speedy disposal of applications from foreign citizens claiming refugee status.
Home ministry sources said the taskforce will work to grant citizenship to all Pakistani Hindus with complete documents within two months. For those with inadequate documents, long-term visa will be facilitated.
Pakistan Hindus during a protest march to the Pakistan High Commission in New Delhi (PTI Photo)
The taskforce will follow up with the state governments on representations regarding pending cases in the states. MHA officials may be sent to coordinate with the state home departments and Foreign Registration Office officials.

Since the initial applications are filed online, the taskforce will monitor them and keep track of their progress.
The taskforce will also coordinate matters relating to long term visa, which for such refugees may extend to 10-15 years. A foreigner on long term visa is permitted to take up any employment in the private sector or to pursue studies in any academic institution.

Most Pakistani nationals belonging to the minority community come to India on a tourist visa only to claim refugee status. Seeking to stay back, they usually apply for citizenship or long term visas.

As per data put out by the Union home ministry, 3,753 Pakistani nationals were given long-term visas over 2013 and 2014 (up to June 30) and 1,854 granted citizenship between 2011 and the current year.

Border Security Force soldiers frisk farmers at the India-Bangladesh border in Lankamura village, on the outskirts of Agartala.
PTI
Border Security Force soldiers frisk farmers at the India-Bangladesh border in Lankamura village, on the outskirts of Agartala.

Meanwhile,The Supreme Court on Wednesday questioned the government’s resolve to secure the eastern border of the country.The Hindu reports:
“We are at a loss to understand why 67 years after independence the eastern border is left porous. We have been reliably informed that the entire western border with Pakistan, 3300 km long, is not only properly fenced, but properly manned as well, and is not porous at any point,” a Bench of Justices Ranjan Gogoi and Rohinton F. Nariman said in a 70-page judgment.
Expressing concern at the large influx of illegal migrants from Bangladesh, Justice Nariman noted that the “porous border,” with not even a proper fencing, risks the lives of citizens of the border States, including Assam.
The judgment came on a batch of petitions filed by NGOs Assam Sanmilita Mahasangha, Assam Public Works and All-Assam Ahom Association, contending that large influx of people from Bangladesh led to periodic clashes.
The petitions challenged the validity of Section 6(3) & (4) of the Citizenship Act, accommodating migrants from East Pakistan between January, 1966 and March 24, 1971 as deemed citizens of the country. The petitions wanted such periodic violence to be treated as instances of external aggression.
“The Union will take all effective steps to complete the fencing [double coiled wire fencing] in such parts of the Indo-Bangla border [including Assam] where presently the fencing is yet to be completed,” the court ordered.
“The vigil along the riverine boundary will be effectively maintained by continuous patrolling. Such part of the international border which has been perceived to be inhospitable on account of the difficult terrain will be patrolled and monitored at vulnerable points that could provide means of illegal entry.”
It directed the building of motorable roads alongside the international border and installation of floodlights to prevent incidents ranging from incursion to cross-border trafficking.
PTI reports:
The court quoted a report of 1998 by the then Assam Lt. Gen. S.K. Sinha to the President on the “grave threat posed by the large scale influx of people from Bangladesh to Assam.”
“The dangerous consequences, both for the people of Assam and more for the nation as a whole, need to be empathetically stressed. No misconceived and mistaken notions of secularism should be allowed to come in the way of doing so. The spectre looms large of the indigenous people of Assam being reduced to a minority in their home State. Their cultural survival will be in jeopardy, their political control will be weakened and their employment opportunities will be undermined.”




Just read this report by Jhimli Mukherjee Pandey published in Time of India
For decades, citizenship card rules Matua fate

KOLKATA: A motley community, whose official count stands at two crores and unofficial one at five, is suddenly in the forefront of a political theatre. For years, the Matuas, a Hindu sub sect concentrated in the North 24-Parganas around Bongaon and in some parts of Nadia, were a subject of local politics, wooed in turns by the CPM first, then by the Trinamool Congress and now by the BJP. Interestingly, one thing has remained common; the magic wand (cynics call it carrot) with which the community is lured - the citizenship card.

In less than 10 days, Thakurnagar, the citadel of the community, will once again become the vortex of an election cyclone as the by-election to the Bongaon Lok Sabha seat is announced. The seat fell vacant after the death of sitting Trinamool Congress MP Kapil Krishna Thakur in early October. Kapil Krishna was the eldest son of 95-year-old Binapani Devi, the spiritual head of the community, better known as Boroma. She is the fountainhead of power and prestige of the Matuas, with her younger son Manjul Krishna a minister in Mamata's cabinet. Such a convergence of spiritual and political power at Baroma's Thakurnagar residence, popularly called Thakurbari, is rare, explaining why all political parties make a beeline towards the "throne" on which Boroma sits. So what if it's just a wooden chair, for the Matuas, it's an altar.

The latest entrant in this crosscurrent is the BJP, which finished third in the last Lok Sabha polls, but did not fail to impress. Matuas are originally refugees who came from Orakandi in Faridpur and it was thought that Modi's controversial comment about those crossing over might cut a wrong chord with the Matuas. However, the BJP was able to pull 2,44,783 votes, a growth of 15 per cent from its earlier performance. If you think that this has got to do with the Modi-wave, then you must know that the BJP, guided with the bosses at the centre, is right now focussed towards the indigenous causes of the Matuas, much to the discomfiture of the TMC, which managed to come out on top with 5,51,213 votes in the last Lok Sabha polls, garnering nearly 43 per cent of the votes polled. That apart, the TMC also won all the seven assembly segments in the 2011 sweep. But does the TMC have complete control over the Matuas?
The recent fast by Subrata Thakur, son of TMC minister, Manjul Krishna Thakur, over the issue of lack of citizenship of a majority of Matuas and a demand for a repeal of the Citizenship Act that was reformed in 2003, drew a lot of media attention, much of which has thrown up a lot of questions for the TMC, bringing the discomfort back to the Matua Thakurbari too.

Subrata Thakur is the TMC's panchayat samiti member but had earlier made it public that he would quit politics so that he can work for the social uplift of the Matuas. The fact that the BJP emissaries from the party's national SC/ST cell led by Krishna Badhi from Chhattisgarh finally caused Subrata to end the protest has given rise to a lot of speculation about whether he might join the BJP instead.

Boroma wanted a TMC ticket for grandson Subrata in Bongaon and for elder son Kapil Krishna in Ranaghat, a wish that Mamata Banerjee did not fulfil. "For 67 years the Matuas have suffered. I want that suffering to end and I don't mind knocking the doors of the BJP for it. There is no time to waste, if the Act is not corrected now, we will be pushed back by another five years," Subrata said.

If speculation is rife about a relationship between the BJP and Subrata, the community is also gossiping about the Kapil's widow, Mamata Thakur warming up to the BJP. Ever since her husband's death, the latter has been trying to garner Matuas in a campaign for citizenship.

"I am just talking to the Matuas from all sections of the society and building up a movement in our common demand for citizenship. It is too premature to say if I would be contesting the coming Lok sabha by-elections. I am an apolitical person and leave it to the followers to decide if I should be with the TMC or the BJP. I can only say that I am not closing my doors to discussion," she said.

Manjul Thakur's discomfiture is understandable. He is being forced to do a lot of explanations on his son's behalf. "It's an old demand. My grandson is just taking it forward. Without a voter's card, Matuas are not eligible for even an LPG connection, a ration card or a BPL card!" Boroma explained.

"The NDA government had revised the Citizenship Act in 2003 to make every entry beyond 1971 illegal. We are calling it a kala kanoon and want it repealed. We have been assured of an audience from the central government," said Manab Roy, an aide of Boroma.

K.D. Biswas of the BJP is unwilling to believe in the theory of a section of the family being wooed by his party. "Modiji had said that he would sympathetically solve the problem of those who had sought refuge from Bangladesh when he came to the election meeting at Barasat on my request. I have now been asked to follow up on this and send a report to Delhi."

BJP MLA from Basirhat Samik Bhattacharya has been closely following the citizenship demand of the Matuas and refuses to allow TMC to steal the issue. "Subrata is representing the Matuas rather than the TMC over this issue, which is originally the BJP's promise to the Matuas. Indeed, he will be called by the Centre to discuss the problems because the Modi government is trying to rise above party politics to find a solution to the Matua citizenship issue," Bhattacharya said.

Read this report by Ajanta Chakraborty,TNN :
The Matua factor in Bengal politics

BONGAON: Poll battle in Bengal is characterized by a newfound ritual - wooing the Matuas.

The Matua vote-bank was discovered in 2009 when Karl Marx's followers, otherwise denouncing religion as 'opium of the masses', were suddenly empathic towards a certain faith. You had high-browed Communists like Brinda Karat and Biman Bose rushing to Thakurnagar near the Indo-Bangla border to touch the feet of nonagenarian Binapani Devi whom everyone, including our current chief minister, calls Boroma (elder Mother).

Mamata Banerjee clinched the socially disadvantaged Hindu sect votes in 2009 Lok Sabha and the 2011 assembly polls. She made a minister out of Boroma's younger son, Manjulkrishna Thakur, and has now nominated her elder son, Kapilkrishna, from Bongaon. BJP has fielded a Matua, K D Biswas, and CPM's Debesh Das is banking heavily on Matua Forward Bloc strongman Haripada Biswas to wrest the crucial North 24-Parganas seat.

Bongaon. This is where social scientists delving into the unique case study on Matuas should come to. It's March-end and Baruni Mela has commenced at Bongaon's Thakurnagar. The fair originated in sect founder Harichand's village, Orakandi in Gopalganj, and shifted here in 1948. The Matua headquarters, 70km north of Kolkata, falls in the Gaighata assembly constituency from where Boroma's son won, riding on SC votes. The sect comprises Bengal's second largest SC population, Namasudra (formerly Chandal) refugees, who left Bangladesh to settle in Howrah, the two 24-Parganas, Nadia, Malda, Cooch Behar, South and North Dinajpur.

Most Matuas have relatives across the border (some landed up during the 2013 unrest). Asim Sikdar (64), retired electric fitter of Betul coal mines in Madhya Pradesh, who has come all the way to attend the mela, rues: "Didi is silent on the prime Matua demand - stalling deportation of those who have been dubbed as infiltrators after the 2003 Citizenship Amendment Act." If angry Matuas, one of India's best-organized communities, were part of the winds of change that swept Bengal, they could well turn the tables now, much as Didi may stick to the vote-bank with a slew of sops.

Let's get back to the fair. The otherwise sleepy hamlet, 3km from Thakurnagar station, is packed with Matuas from across India. Amid the huts stand two pagoda-like temples, the nucleus of the pilgrimage. The taller one is of Harichand, who founded the sect in mid-1800 at Gopalganj in Bangladesh's Faridpur. Beating drums (danka) and brandishing white-laced crimson flags, hordes of Matuas push through the serpentine alleys to reach Boroma. She is seated inside the choc-a-bloc Thakurbari balcony, behind the temples of Haridchand and his son Guruchand, who consolidated the sect before handing the baton to his son and Pramatha's father, Sashi Bhushan. Mamata has fielded Kapilkrishna, to whom Pramatha bequeathed the order in a deed registered on September 5, 1988.

"Mamata is doing good work," Boroma whispers. That's a remarkable change from 2009 and 2011 when with Mamata beside her, the avowedly apolitical sect leader would only aver: "I don't ask anyone to vote for any party". An insider reveals: "Boroma wanted another Lok Sabha seat, Ranaghat (in neighbouring Nadia district) that is also Matua-dominated, for Kapil and the coveted Bongaon for Manjul's son and panchayat samiti member Subrata." Kapil's candidature has rankled his brother no end.

Undoubtedly, Matua's first family is bogged by feud now that it has tasted power-politics, half a century after Boroma's husband and Harichand's great-grandson was sworn in as a junior tribal development minister in 1962 in the B C Roy cabinet. Pramatha practised the signature Harichand adage - Je jatir dol nei she jatir bol nei (a community that doesn't have a party is weak). An MLA since 1937, he managed to buy forest land a decade later to set up Thakurnagar for the untouchables who fled then East Pakistan. He was Congress MP from Nabadweep in 1967, but quit politics soon after, disillusioned.

Post-1977, the Matuas supported the Left Front. Kapilkrishna was no exception. Summing up the disenchantment, he says: "The Left did nothing for SC and STs." Late CPM minister Subhas Chakraborty was first to sense the change of heart when he visited Boroma, post Singur-Nandigram. But local Trinamool Congress MLA Jyotipriya Mullick nudged his boss in the nick of time to woo the Matuas away.

Thus was introduced the caste politics that rules India, but hitherto unknown in Bengal,

"Bengal's 68 lakh-odd Matuas affect the elections a lot. Didi made Boroma's son a minister and now she'll make the other one an MP. They will ensure Matua support, which, in turn, will bring the SC-ST votes," Mullick says simply. But that's a political hyperbole. According to 2001 census, Namasudras were 33.393 lakh or 17.4 % of Bengal's 1.84 crore SC community. Considering half the Namasudras are Matuas, they couldn't be more than 17 lakh, including children and non-voters. Politics leaders vehemently shun the logic: "We have crore-plus listed members," insists BJP candidate and Matua Mahasabha central committee member Krishna Das Biswas.

Rabindranath Haldar (60), the unofficial Matua spokesman, proclaims: "We have 6crore members all over India... Je kare Harir kaaj, Hari karey taar kaaj (the Lord works for those who work for him).

Instead of using us as pawns, political parties should keep their promises. Or each Matua will listen to his own instinct."

In 2010, Boroma made Mamata the Matua Mahasabha chief patron and she returned the gesture by donating Rs 33 lakh for sprucing up Kamonasagor, the holy pond. Mamata's promises included formulating a refugee rehabilitation policy, a sports stadium and a railway hospital.

Swarup Samaddar (60), a chicken seller, and the unemployed Samir Biswas (24) have a clear stance. "It makes sense to vote for Narendra Modi," says Samaddar. Biswas explains why: "We voted a thakur who has done nothing as the refugee, relief and rehabilitation minister. All the Trinamool has done is taking over the Thakurbari."

BJP candidate Biswas, representing the aam Matua, is asking them a pertinent question: "Why should one family get the ministers, MPs and panchayat members, and all the wealth. Why can't we function democratically like Bharat Sevashram Sangh and Ramakrishna Mission?"

CPI (M) leader endorses Modi’s view on Matuas

SOUMYA DAS

Modi is “technically correct” in saying that Matuas are not Indian citizens

Veteran CPI (M) leader and former minister in the Left Front government, Kanti Biswas, said that the BJP’s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi was “technically correct” in saying that most of the members of a socio-religious sect, Matuas, are not Indian citizens. His comment comes at a time when the Trinamool Congress (TMC) has launched an attack on Mr. Modi for claiming that Matuas are denied citizenship even after staying in Bengal for several decades. Mr. Modi said if BJP came to power it would grant citizenship to the members of Matua community. There are millions in Bengal who are part of the community and thus the Matuas have a substantial share of votes in North 24 Paraganas and adjoining districts, which are going to polls on Monday.
The Matuas are a socio-religious sect founded in the 19th century by a spiritual leader Harichand Thakur in the Faridpur province in the present-day Bangladesh. After the partition, a section of the community crossed over to West Bengal and Harichand Thakur’s grandson established the sect’s headquarters at Thakurnagar in North 24 Parganas district. Thakur’s movement is seen as a reformist movement to uplift the Matuas socially.
Since the community has a few million votes, so before every major election, the Matua leaders are wooed by the political parties.
While in 2011, Mamata Banerjee first approached the Matuas, Mr. Modi raised the issue of the citizenship right of the community a few weeks ago.
Ms. Banerjee rubbished Mr. Modi’s claim that most of the Matuas do not have citizenship citing that two sons of the Matua matriarch Binapani Debi are full-scale political leaders. One of them, Manjula Krishna Thakur, is a Minister in the State cabinet while the other one, Kapil Krishna Thakur, is a TMC candidate.
On Monday, however, Mr. Biswas said that Mr. Modi is “technically correct” in saying that the Matuas have not been conferred citizenship right. But he blamed Ms. Banerjee for not giving the citizenship to the Matuas.
Mr. Biswas alleged that before the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government passed the Citizenship Amendment Act, 2003, Ms. Banerjee did not oppose the bill. The TMC was then a constituent of the NDA. Mr. Biswas claimed that “a senior party leader” told her that if the Act came into force the Bangladeshi refugees, who were a traditional vote-bank of the Left parties, would no longer have voting right thereby benefiting the TMC.
“In August 2005, after the law was passed by voice vote in Parliament, Ms. Banerjee flung some papers at the Deputy Speaker after he rejected an adjournment motion brought by her about Bangladeshi migrants,” he said. “She also accused the refugees of being a threat to the law and order situation in the State,” he added.
According to the Act, “illegal migrant” is defined as foreigners who have entered the country without having a valid passport or other such travel documents. If this law was implemented most of the Matuas would not be regarded as citizens.
When contacted, BJP candidate K.D. Biswas told The Hindu, “His (Mr. Biswas) comment has exposed the double standard and hypocrisy of the CPI (M) on the Bangladeshi refugees and the Matuas. Previously, the CPI (M) used to extort money from the Martua refugees and now the TMC does the same thing. But Ms. Banerjee continues to make hollow claims about the development of the Matua community.”
Previously, the Matuas were a safe vote-bank of the Left parties as they upheld their demand of Indian citizenship. But they shifted their political allegiance by voting in large numbers for the Trinamool Congress in the 2008 rural polls and 2009 general elections accusing the Left Front government of not keeping its promises.
Ms. Banerjee got a significant edge over the CPI (M) in wooing the Matuas when in 2010 Binapani Devi declared her the “chief patron” of Matua Maha Mahasangh, the apex body of the sect.


Two sons of the Matua matriarch, Binapani Debi, are full-scale political leaders: Mamata
His comment has exposed the double standard and hypocrisy of CPI (M): BJP candidate

The West Bengal Story

The Caste Question in Lok Sabha Elections

Vol - XLIX No. 16, April 19, 2014 | Praskanva Sinharay
The new politics of caste in West Bengal has the potential to dislodge the traditional bipolar political discourse in the state. While bhadrolok politics is still dominant, the question of caste is likely to play a crucial role in this election.
Praskanva Sinharay (praskanva@gmail.com) is a doctoral scholar at Centre for Studies in Social Sciences, Calcutta.
Introduction
The political scene of West Bengal, in the context of upcoming 16th Lok Sabha elections, seems to be quite unique. With the decline of the Left Front’s (LF) organisational strength and political appeal among the voters of the state; the present ruling party Trinamool Congress (TMC), which this time has not aligned with the Congress for the upcoming election, cannot also claim a monopoly over popular support. Moreover, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) with its strong development-oriented political campaign and smart selection of candidates in different seats has increasingly managed to secure a certain level of support among specific pockets of the voting population. Therefore, unlike the erstwhile bipolar nature of West Bengal’s election scene, the upcoming Lok Sabha polls cannot be simply looked at as a contest between two major camps; rather the other prominent political parties like Congress, BJP among others, quite evidently, shall play a crucial role in the deciding the results.
On the other hand, the collapse of the long-standing Left Front regime in 2011 signaled the crisis of what Dwaipayan Bhattacharyya has called “party-society”1 (Bhattacharyya: 2011). With the crisis of the party as the “chief mediator” in rural and semi-urban affairs, we have witnessed in the last couple of years, a host of community-based political assertions in the state politics (for example, the Matuas in the border districts, the Gorkhas in Darjeeling, the Rajbanshis and Adivasis in north Bengal, the Muslim minorities and so forth). Since the fate of the elections is largely determined by the rural voters, the political support of these communities, in terms of specific issues, shall definitely play a significant role in the elections this time.
This article aims to reflect on the uniqueness of the upcoming Lok Sabha elections in the state, particularly focusing on the question of “caste” which is an emerging determinant category in the state election scene. In addition to that, I also wish to revisit my argument made earlier where I proposed that the organised politics of the Matuas – a minor sect of the Namasudras – under the banner of their community organisation Matua Mahasangha had introduced “a new politics of caste” in the state (Sinharay 2012: 26-27).
I have formerly argued that the emergence of Matua Mahasangha as the frontal organisation of the lower-caste Matua community since 2007-2008 with their specific demands regarding citizenship, caste-certificates among many others, however, had disturbed the urban, upper-caste bhadralok hegemony over local politics at a considerable level, as well as, had introduced a new politics of mediation in rural West Bengal (Sinharay: 2012, 2013).
This proposition met with many insightful responses from different scholars that were carried in previous issues of EPW(Chandra and Nielsen: 2012; Bandyopadhyay: 2012; Chatterjee: 2012; Samaddar: 2013).
Recent Developments
The politics of bargain, it seems, have been a mutually beneficial process for both the camps – the community-organisation and the party. The former gains its political salience in the institutionalised domain of state politics; whereas the latter, quite cunningly, aims to eventually integrate the former’s discrete politics within its influence. Such a phenomenon is evidently noticeable in case of the Matuas. Although the Mahasangha gained its prominence as the independent mouthpiece of the lower-caste refugees, and negotiated with all the political parties to meet their demands; its leadership eventually aligned with the TMC with the appointment of Manjul Krishna Thakur, the younger son of Baroma Binapani Devi, as the minister of state for refugee-relief and rehabilitation. For the next Lok Sabha elections too, the TMC has played the same card, and nominated the organisational head Kapil Krishna Thakur, the elder son of Baroma Binapani Devi, as its candidate from Bongaon constituency. Therefore, even though the Mahasangha gained prominence as an important political actor in state’s rural politics; its leadership, today, has been subsumed within the TMC’s party-influence. The BJP also adopted a similar political strategy this time by nominating a prominent Matua leader K D Biswas from the Bongaon constituency. It shall also play the Hindu card among the refugee population who had to cross the border due to communal tensions.
A crucial question arises at this point. Whether should we look at the integrationist attitude of the community-organisation and its leadership within the mainstream political parties as strategic moves of the time, or is that so that the bhadralok leadership has managed to reclaim their temporarily lost authority during the crisis phase over local politics? Although there cannot be any immediate answer to such a query, we can only identify three major trends in the present politics of the state vis-à-vis the marginal communities before the Lok Sabha elections.
One, we can see that the different communities choose to represent their political line of action from within the world of mainstream party-politics, and hence, there is subsumption of identities within the party-structures. After the dramatic victory in 2011 elections, the ruling party TMC has eventually strengthened its party-machinery and successfully increased its influence among the dalit and other marginal communities. We have already seen this in case of the Matuas. To take the example of another voluminous lower-caste community – the Rajbanshis, the TMC anchored to a politics of compensation, and met certain identitarian demands. For instance, the present government has established the Coochbehar Panchanan Burma University in 2012 to commemorate the great Rajbanshi leader. Therefore, all other political parties, in order to augment their influence over these marginalised communities, have adopted similar policies that sympathise, in some way or the other, with the different identitarian causes.
Two, although the discrete identities have been temporarily subsumed within the party banners, this does not mean that these local identities have lost their political charge. Rather, the opposite holds true. One of the recent newspaper reports, for example, on the pre-election political campaigns in Dooars (North Bengal) said, “Party banners are no longer the only identity of candidates in the fray. For instance, Manohar Tirkey of RSP, Dasarath Tirkey of Trinamool and BJP’s Birendra Bara are known by their Oraon origin. Joseph Munda of Congress has a protestant Christian lineage” (Roy: 2014). In other words, the party-identity of a candidate is no longer the only strong marker of her or his political credibility, rather the identity of the candidate as a “minority” has become crucial in support of the candidature. Therefore, such a political trend, on the one hand, challenges the erstwhile authority of the bhadralok-dominated party at the local level; whereas, on the other, it publicly champions the identitarian politics of the community in present-day rural West Bengal.
The Emergence of Dalit Voice
The third, and perhaps the most important development in contemporary state politics, is the emergence of autonomous dalit voice. Although the heterogeneous condition of the different lower-caste population groups in West Bengal did not allow a combined dalit movement, there had been certain “general slogans (of land and rural wages in particular)” that led to the formation of a “bahujan samaj” at different points of time (Samaddar 2013:79). The politics of the “bahujan samaj” had been manifested, as Ranabir Samaddar had noted, in the movements of Naxalbari, Lalgarh, and Jungle Mahals (Ibid). Interestingly, all three examples are instances of violent peasant resistance. I would like to add to the list another instance of armed peasant resistance – the Nandigram movement that had signaled the final crisis of party-society. The other instances of Lalgarh and Jungle Mahals followed thereafter. The policies of crass industrialisation through forcible land-grab endorsed by the LF led to the birth of voices of dissent from within the party. Moreover, the prolonged marginalisation of dalits and minorities within the party, and increasing elitism and bureaucracy led rebel CPI (M) leaders like Rezzak Mollah to come up with autonomous political formations like the recently formed “Social Justice Forum” before the Lok Sabha polls. To quote Rezzak Mollah:
The ascendency of Trinamool is…a result of the fact that the Left Front, which lips class struggle, has failed to implement it…
A piece of statistics says that 94% of the people here are from the deprived classes. If in West Bengal, the scheduled castes, tribes, minorities and backward classes were to unite, they would bring down their high caste rulers. It is ironical that Bengal always had either a Brahmin or a Baidya chief minister… (Times News Network: 2014)
The expelled leader has targeted the 2016 state assembly polls where he wants “a Dalit as Bengal CM with a Muslim as deputy” (Times News Network: 2014). The expulsion of Mollah before the Lok Sabha elections and his political initiatives to form another, if we can use the term, “bahujan samaj” shall, however, undoubtedly affect the upcoming polls.
Lastly, another important political formation before the elections is the Bahujan Mukti Party (BMP). The BMP, established in 2012, has already created a support base among the different lower-caste communities like the Namasudras, Poundras, Rajbanshis, Bauris, Mahatos, as well as among the Muslims. The party advocates for an agriculture-based economy and small scale industrialisation, and strongly opposes the liberalisation policies (like SEZ) of the central and state government. It demands decentralisation of political power, and proper implementation of reservations for the dalits and Muslims. Following the political line of Jogendranath Mandal, the BMP endorses Dalit-Muslim unity and political alliance of all marginal groups (published in their official mouthpiece Bahujan Mukti Barta, 27 September, 2013). Sukriti Ranjan Biswas, the state president of BMP told me over a telephonic interview, that they are contesting the elections for the first time, and are planning to field its candidates in almost 30 seats. Quite interestingly, as Sukriti Ranjan Biswas informed me, the party is getting the support of the former CPI(M) leader Rezzak Mollah who is attending BMP’s election campaigns in different parts of the state. The support of Rezzak Mollah shall surely facilitate the BMP’s fight in the upcoming elections.
Conclusion
The caste question in the Lok Sabha elections in West Bengal, therefore, shall be of crucial importance. The political expressions and alliances of the leadership of different lower-caste groups before the polls had been quite different. Some chose to align with the bhadralok-dominated party to meet their demands, whereas others have opted for an autonomous political position. A quick look at the manifestos of all the political parties also informs us that the question of SC/ST, Muslims and other minorities are on the priority list of their political agenda in this election. Moreover, since the electoral fight is no longer bi-polar this time; all the players are eyeing the dalit and minority votes for their electoral success. At this juncture, one must not predict, rather wait and watch the dance of democracy.
Notes:
1.   “Party society…is the modular form of political society in West Bengal’s countryside”. For detailed discussion on party society, see Dwaipayan Bhattacharyya (2011):226-250.
2.   When the Matua Mahasangha held a conference on December 28, 2010 at Esplanade – the heart of Kolkata demanding the repeal of the Citizenship Amendment Act (2003) among many others, the dais was shared by top-notch leaders of all prominent political parties along with the Matua leadership. All the leaders unanimously extended support to their demands before the 2011 state assembly elections. (The Telegraph Special Correspondent: 2010).
References:
Bandyopadhyay, Sarbani (2012): “Caste and Politics in Bengal”, Economic and Political Weekly, 47(50): 71-73.
Bhattacharyya, Dwaipayan (2011): “Party Society, its Consolidation and Crisis: Understanding Political Change in Rural West Bengal” in Anjan Ghosh,Tapati Guha-Thakurta and Janaki Nair(ed.), Theorizing the Present: Essays for Partha Chatterjee (New Delhi: Oxford University Press), pp. 226-50.
Chandra, Uday and Kenneth Bo Nielsen (2012): “The Importance of Caste in Bengal”, Economic and Political Weekly, 47(44): 59-61
Chatterjee, Partha (1997): The Present History of West Bengal: Essays in Political Criticism (New Delhi: Oxford University Press).
– (2012): “Historicising Caste in Bengal Politics”, Economic and Political Weekly, 47(50): 69-70.
Roy, Saugata (2014): “Identity politics holds key in Dooars”, The Times of India, 29 March, available athttp://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/kolkata/Identity-politics-holds-key-in-Dooars/articleshow/32871172.cms, accessed on 4 March 2014.
Sinharay, Praskanva (2012): “A New Politics of Caste”, Economic and Political Weekly, 47(34): 26-27.
– (2013): “Caste, Migration and Identity”, Seminar (645).
Special Correspondent (2010): “Vote game brings rivals to same dais”, The Telegraph, 29 December, available athttp://www.telegraphindia.com/1101229/jsp/bengal/story_13364470.jsp, accessed on 4 April 2014.
Times News Network (2014): “Mollah floats 'social justice forum'”, The Times of India, 24 February, available athttp://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/kolkata/mollah-floats-social-justice-forum/articleshow/30920592.cms, accessed on 4 March 2014.



Caste, migration and identity
PRASKANVA SINHARAY
back to issue
ON 11 March 2012, a public meeting was organized at Mahajati Sadan in Kolkata by the Harichand-Guruchand Thakur Research Foundation on the eve of the 200th birth anniversary year of Sri Harichand Thakur, the founder of the Matua sect. The meeting was not a mere annual gathering of the followers of the sect; rather it was an assembly with specific political demands of the community – ‘Chai Nagorikotyo, Chai Jatipatro’ – the twofold demand of issuing of citizenship and caste certificate. (Image I)
Two years before, on 28 December 2010, the Matuas had rocked the streets of Kolkata and the Matua Mahasangha, their frontal organization, held a huge public gathering at Esplanade before the state assembly elections which was attended by the representatives of all the major political parties. The purpose of the gathering was to demand the repeal of the Citizenship Amendment Act 2003 that denied citizenship to those refugees who migrated to the Indian side of the border after the Bangladesh war in 1971. (Image II)
Poster of the national conference held on 11 March 2012 in Kolkata.
The Matuas have gained immense popularity in recent times, both in the media as well as in public debates and discussions in West Bengal, as the community has emerged as a ‘force’ under the banner of Matua Mahasangha that no political party could ignore in order to ensure electoral benefits.1 This, I believe, has introduced ‘a new politics of caste’2 in West Bengal and has also changed the erstwhile urban, upper caste dominated political character of the state.
The Matuas, almost entirely composed of the lower caste Namasudras, are mostly refugees who have migrated to India in successive waves – the first wave after partition of Bengal in 1947, a large bulk after the 1954 riots and a third wave after the 1971 war.3 The Namasudras, which had been the largest caste group in undivided eastern Bengal as well as the most organized and politically active force, had time and again resisted the Brahminical social hierarchy and the upper caste dominated nationalist hegemonic politics.4 This historic movement of the Namasudras, however, suffered a major setback and was entirely disoriented when Bengal was divided in 1947. It has been argued by historian Sekhar Bandyopadhyay that in ‘post-colonial West Bengal the Partition violence and refugee influx had led to a rephrasing of the idioms of victimhood and resistance, placing less emphasis on caste and focusing more on the predicament of migration and the struggles of the refugees’ and hence, in spite of perpetuation of caste based discrimination, ‘"caste" as an idiom of protest disappeared from public space.’5
Poster of the public meeting held on 28 December 2010.
The present politics of West Bengal, however, is marked by a ‘resurgence’ of organized dalit political assertion which has surprisingly brought the bhadralok leaders to their knees. The political mobilization of the Matuas indicates the reconsolidation of the lower caste Namasudra community once again, which no longer strictly remains ‘the other world of collective social thinking and practice little touched by the orderly process of organized party politics.’6 This article thus seeks to narrate how partition destabilized the organized force of lower caste people and tells the stories of victimhood and struggles of the dalit refugees. Moreover, it tries to understand the issues, demands and politics of the dalit refugees in contemporary West Bengal.
Much has already been written on the partition of Bengal – both on the causes as well as consequences of ‘a seminal event of the 20th century, which led to unprecedented upheavals, massive shifts in population and unexpected transformation of the socio-political landscape’, and by now, we have before us a buffet of literature on partition and refugee studies.7 However, the focus of the dominant literature on the partition of Bengal has been quite one-sided, dominated by the ‘traumatic and nostalgic memories of a lost homeland in East Bengal’ of the urban, upper caste bhadralok.8 This genre of literature has mostly dealt with the tales of the refugees who settled mostly in Calcutta and its fringes where ‘the dominant image of the refugee is that of the Bengali Hindu fleeing from East Pakistan to Calcutta in West Bengal.’9
The massive bulk of refugees who were resettled outside Bengal in Orissa, Bihar, Dandakaranya, Andaman Islands and elsewhere had received least attention, not only from the government and political parties, but also from the supposedly sensitive academia. The continuous influx of the refugee-population has posed a governmentality problem emanating from the social security concerns of the state, and ‘the response of the Indian state towards the refugees and their needs has been a matter of calculation, discrimination and discretion.’10 Since the category of refugee that came into being as a result of partition is not homogenous, this paper has chosen to focus on those ‘refugees who settled in rural areas, on those who never became beneficiaries of government "rehabilitation programmes", on those whose class background was not bhadralok.’11
The Namasudras had been the prey of such calculative discriminatory responses of the Indian state which quite overtly followed a caste line vis-à-vis its rehabilitation policy. Unlike the upper caste Hindu refugees who were settled in and around the city of Calcutta, the Namasudra migrants were either resettled in the uninhabitable camps in districts of 24 Parganas, Nadia, Burdwan, Midnapur or Cooch Behar or deported mostly to inhospitable areas of Dandakaranya and Andaman Islands.12 Being utterly confused and disillusioned by the factionalism in its leadership on the eve of partition, and largely lacking the family/caste connections and other means to survive on their own, most of the Namasudra refugees had to depend on government relief schemes and hence were meticulously scattered in small pockets in different parts of India.13 In other words, the earlier organized dalit movement was effectively broken and the dalit refugees were strategically not allowed to unite. And quite obviously, we hardly came across or could imagine the image of the dalit refugee in the canvas of partition stories.
On the eve of partition, the Matuas did not compromise with their distinct identity as the followers of Harichand and Guruchand Thakur, and remained loyal to their leader Pramatha Ranjan Thakur, the heir of the Thakur family who was elected to the Bengal Legislative Assembly in 1946 as a Congress candidate. Being loyal to his party during the days of partition, P.R. Thakur came to West Bengal and settled in a small village about 63 kilometres from Calcutta, which later came to be known as Thakurnagar. In order to materialize the dreams of his ancestors, he tried to revive the Matua Mahasangha since 1949,14 the organization founded by his grandfather Guruchand Thakur.
Though initially he supported the Congress scheme of refugee resettlement, later on, after a rift with his party, he entirely engaged himself in the task of rehabilitation of the Namasudra refugees and reviving the organization. Thakurnagar eventually came up as the first Namasudra refugee colony in West Bengal encircling which more than 50,000 Namasudras settled down within a span of ten years.15 Finally, it is in 1986 that the Matua Mahasangha regained its full life and in 1988, the organization got registered.
Here, it must be noted that immediately after partition, the Left parties endeared themselves to the refugees and gained their confidence as they launched a movement under the banner of United Central Refugee Council (UCRC) to voice the cause of refuge-rehabilitation under proper conditions.16 The communists strongly attacked the Congress policy vis-à-vis rehabilitation of refugees and offered resettlement in West Bengal.17 But there was a quick policy reversal as soon as the CPI(M)-led Left Front came to power in Bengal in 1977. Following the prophetic promises of the Left Front, the dalit refugees who had come to settle in Marichjhapi, a deltaic region in the Sunderbans, were met with an economic blockade backed by the state government and finally with bullets, where 4128 families perished; the rest were sent back to Dandakaranya.18
‘Caste’, as Aditya Nigam has noted, ‘is a blot that has affected the psyche of the mutated modern in ways that can be best expressed in Freudian terms…the suppressed/ repressed… the unconscious… of the modern moral self… [It] is the hidden principle that gives it the access to all kinds of modern privileges precisely because it functions as cultural/ symbolic capital.’19 The Marichjhapi massacre quite blatantly exposed the urban, upper caste bhadralokdominated ideology of the Left Front leadership.
In context of the Matuas, Sandip Bandyopadhyay observed that the Congress made a populist move by incorporating them mostly as ‘unrecognized refugees’, the BJP though initially targeting the Muslim migrants eventually took a hard stance towards all those who migrated after 1971, whereas the regional government led by the Left Front recognized them in a clandestine manner. It provided them with ration cards and other benefits for securing a vote bank, though they were not keen to settle the migration issue.’20 However, since the Left Front successfully broke the erstwhile political authority of the old Congress regime at the rural level that derived its privileged status from landed property (older relations of production) or caste loyalties or religious associations, and themselves derived ‘their authority from their participation in political movements and by the fact that they represented the "party"’;21 it is understandable that the Left Front managed to seek the allegiance of the dalits due to an absence of any political alternative. Although the Left did not take any initiative to address the problems of migration, refugee rehabilitation and citizenship of the Namasudras, they became the ‘nearest’, if not the ‘dearest’, political choice of the dalits amidst the ‘party-society’22 that emerged during the decade-long Left Front rule.
In 2003, the Government of India, under the BJP-led NDA, introduced the Citizenship Amendment Act which denied Indian citizenship to those who migrated after 1971.23 The new law posed a serious threat to the identity of the Namasudra refugees, as a large section of them had crossed the border after the Bangladesh war in 1971. The Matua Mahasangha, which by now had emerged as the frontal organization of the Namasudras, opposed the new law and their leaders organized a hunger strike in 2004 at its headquarters at Thakurnagar.24 Quite surprisingly, the Left Front government in West Bengal stood by the central government’s decision to pass the new law in order to check the refugee influx. The then Chief Minister, Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee, commented, ‘…on the question of dealing with illegal infiltrators from Bangladesh, our state government is in agreement with the Government of India that whenever such infiltration is detected, the foreign nationals should be pushed back forthwith.’25 Thus, the Left which had begun its journey as being pro-poor, pro-dalit and supported the cause of the millions of refugees, was to eventually end up alienating them.
The Matua Mahasangha, particularly since 2004, has gradually emerged as the mouthpiece organization of the Namasudras with a membership of about 100,000 to 120,000 families,26 not only in Bengal but also outside. Being an autonomous disciplined community organization, the Mahasangha gradually drew up with its own constitution, issued identity cards to its members, held periodic gatherings, published books, journals and pamphlets and thereby encouraged a dalit literary movement, and organized other mass-mobilizing activities to resist the bhadralokhegemonic politics. The Mahasangha also allied with other dalit refugee organizations, like for example, the Joint Action Committee for Bengali Refugees, in a common battle to repeal the Citizenship Amendment Act of 2003 and arrive at a permanent settlement of the refugee problem, including proper rehabilitation and consequent Indianization of the bulk of refugees who migrated due to the partition of Bengal.27 Today, ‘the Mahasangha and the Thakurbari have provided the rootless Namasudras an identity’, according to Sukumar Halder, a Matua follower.28
Since 2006 onwards, the stable ‘party-society’ of the Left Front regime which had its roots in the class based movements of the poor peasants entered its crisis phase precisely because it failed to reproduce its initial revolutionary conditions of being.29 The sudden policy of crass industrialization virtually turned the Left into ‘an apologist for corporate capital’30 and the incidents of forcible land acquisitions in Singur and Nandigram seriously hampered its erstwhile pro-poor image.
Dwaipayan Bhattacharyya, quite correctly anticipated that postcrisis of party-society, arguing that future popular politics in rural West Bengal is likely to be characterized by the identitarian politics of the community, based on locally constituted networks of caste, ethnicity and religious associations.31 The Matua Mahasangha capitalized on this crisis phase to vent their grievances, posed an organized resistance and advanced the political demands of the Namasudras. As it had already emerged as the frontal community organization of dalit refugees, it could now easily allure all the political parties by promising en bloc support of the Namasudras and negotiate with the formal institutionalized world of politics.
The issues of migration, refugee rehabilitation and citizenship lie at the heart of the present politics of the Matuas. Before the 2003 law was passed, as we know from Ranabir Samaddar’s study, the Indianization of the Namasudra refugees who had migrated and settled in India after 1971, was largely on illegal grounds as they received wide support from the local people due to caste and other affinal ties.32 The situation still remains unchanged. An interesting instance regarding the issue of migration, citizenship and consequent Indianization of the dalit refugees that I learnt from a cycle-van puller that should some-one in Thakurnagar want a voter card, they can get it from a broker close to government officials in Chikanpara, for a charge of 6000 rupees. The Mahasangha extends initial support to these refugees, and once you are a Matua, it’s easy to get other things done. Swapan Biswas, the editor ofMatua Mahasangha Patrika, told me that the Mahasangha continuously resists the arrest and torture of refugees marked as ‘illegal migrants’ by the new law.33
After the much desired poribortan (change) in the seat of power at Writers’ Building, for which the shifting vote bank of the Matuas was largely responsible, the younger son of the Thakurbari and a Saha-Sanghadipati of the Mahasangha, Manjul Krishna Thakur, has been appointed as the Minister of State for Refugee Rehabilitation and Relief. During an interview on the present state of dalit refugees, he remarked quite surprisingly, ‘There is no problem on the issue these days. Earlier there were arrests and all, which has now been absolutely stopped. We cannot change the law; it’s a central government issue. As of now there is no problem.’34 What is implied in the first place is that the refugee problem is dealt with largely on the grounds of illegality. The national law still holds that those who have migrated after 1971 must be treated as ‘illegal migrants’.
The Mahasangha has also declared the repeal of the 2003 Act as its primary demand. But according to the minister, there is no problem these days. If we consider the minister’s version of the situation to be true, then it is evident that the refugee problem is presently addressed by the state administration through ‘temporary, contextual and unstable arrangements’35 by moving beyond the scope of legal-bureaucratic rationality of the modern liberal state. Moreover, such adjustments have been arrived at through political negotiations by the Mahasangha on behalf of the Matuas with the organized world of politics. In other words, the role played by the Mahasangha is that of a mediator, a negotiator that positions itself in the middle of the ‘institutionalized’ world of modern liberal politics and the ‘uninstitutionalized’ world of popular politics of the Matuas. This politics of ‘mediation’, I think, is new in rural politics that has reunited the Namasudras and is definitely a reason for the present salience of the Matuas in the politics of West Bengal.
In 2001, looking at the prolonged absence of the caste factor from the formal institutionalized public domain of the state election scene, Anjan Ghosh, in an article published in Seminar, came up with a formulation – ‘Cast(e) out in West Bengal’.36 However, after witnessing the organized dalit political assertions in contemporary West Bengal, we must admit that caste is ‘in’ with the present politics of the Matuas.
Footnotes
1. The Times of India, 29 December 2010.
2. Praskanva Sinharay, ‘A New Politics of Caste’, Economic and Political Weekly 47(34), 2012.
3. Partha Chatterjee, The Present History of West Bengal. Oxford University Press, Delhi, 1997, p. 74.
4. Sekhar Bandyopadhyay, Caste, Protest and Identity in Colonial India: The Namasudras of Bengal 1872-1947. Oxford University Press, Delhi, 2011.
5. Ibid., p. 248.
6. Partha Chatterjee, 1997, p. 83.
7. Pradip Kumar Bose made a comprehensive study of the literature on refugee studies in his essay, ‘Refugee, Memory and the State: A Review of Research in Refugee Studies’, Refugee Watch 36, December 2010.
8. Mahbubar Rahman and Willem van Schendel, ‘"I Am Not a Refugee": Rethinking Partition Migration’, Modern Asian Studies 37(3), 2003, p. 556.
9. Ibid., p. 559.
10. Pradip Kumar Bose, op cit., p. 21.
11. Mahbubar Rahman and Willem van Schendel, op cit., pp. 556-557.
12. Sekhar Bandyopadhyay, op cit., 2011, p. 255; Ross Mallick, ‘Refugee Resettlement in Forest Reserves: West Bengal Policy Reversal and the Marichjhapi Massacre’, The Journal of Asian Studies 58(1), February 1999, p. 106; Manoranjan Byapari and Meenakshi Mukherjee, ‘Is There Dalit Writing in Bangla?’ Economic and Political Weekly 42(41), 2007.
13. Pradip Kumar Bose, op cit., p. 7.
14. Kapil Krishna Biswas, Sree Dham Orakandi, Thakurnagar O Matuader Nana Prasongo. Nirbhik Publication, 2010, p. 89.
15. Sekhar Bandyopadhyay, op cit., p. 264; Ranabir Samaddar, The Marginalization: Transborder Migration From Bangladesh to West Bengal. Sage, Delhi, 1999, pp. 96-106.
16. Prafulla K. Chakrabarti, The Marginal Men: The Refugees and The Left Political Syndrome in West Bengal. Lumiere Books, West Bengal, 1990, pp. 65-78 and pp. 208-328.
17. Ross Mallick, op cit., February 1999, pp. 105-107.
18. Sekhar Bandyopadhyay, op cit., 2011, p. 262; Ross Mallick, op cit., 1999, pp. 107-115.
19. Aditya Nigam, 2010, ‘The Many Lives of Caste in Modern India’. See link: http://kafila.org/2010/09/27/the-many-lives-of-caste-in-modern-india/; accessed on 09/02/2013 at 2.00 am.
20. Sandip Bandyopadhyay, ‘Who Are the Matuas?’ Frontier 43(37), 27 March-2 April 2011.
21. Partha Chatterjee, ‘The Coming Crisis in West Bengal’, Economic and Political Weekly 44(9), 2009, p. 44.
22. Dwaipayan Bhattacharyya, Party Society, its Consolidation and Crisis: Understanding Political Change in Rural West Bengal, in Anjan Ghosh et al. (eds.), Theorizing the Present: Essays for Party Society. Oxford University Press, Delhi, 2011, pp. 227-231.
23. Sekhar Bandyopadhyay, op cit., 2011, p. 249.
24. Matua Mahasangha Patrika, Issue 66, 1 April 2011, p.9.
25. Cited in Sumanta Banerjee, ‘Bengal Left: From Pink to Saffron?’ Economic and Political Weekly 38(9), 2003.
26. Sekhar Bandyopadhyay, op cit., 2011, p. 267.
27. http://refugeesprobleminindia.blogspot. in/search?q=meeting+with+prime+minister accessed on 10.04.2013 at 3:53 pm.
28. Interview with Dr. Sukumar Halder, President, Ashokenagar Block Matua Mahasangha, on 12.11.2012.
29. Dwaipayan Bhattachatyya, op cit., 2011, pp. 232-238.
30. Ibid., pp. 238-240.
31. Ibid., p. 245.
32. Ranabir Samaddar, op cit., 1999, p. 101.
33. Interview with Swapan Biswas, Editor, Matua Mahasangha Patrika, on 13.11.2012.
34. Interview with Manjul Krishna Thakur, Saha-Sanghadipati, All India Matua Mahasangha, Minister of State for Refugee Rehabilitation and Relief, on 13.11.2012.
35. Partha Chatterjee, ‘Democracy and Economic Transformation in India’, EPW 43(16), 19 April 2008, p. 57.
36. Anjan Ghosh, ‘Cast(e) out in West Bengal’, Seminar 508, December 2001.