How Caste Politics and Mandal Commission Gained Relevance in Bengal Polls – News 24-7 Live News 24-7 Live
How Caste Politics and Mandal Commission Gained Relevance in Bengal Polls

How Caste Politics and Mandal Commission Gained Relevance in Bengal Polls

West Bengal this time has witnessed an election campaign replete with caste-based politics. Both the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Trinamool Congress (TMC) have pulled out all stops to woo the nearly 23.5 per cent Scheduled Caste (SC), 5 per cent Scheduled Tribe (ST) and 17 per cent Other Backward Classes (OBC) share of the state’s electorate to win a majority of the 294 assembly seats on offer, analysts say. The final round of the eight-phase polls is taking place on Thursday with the counting of votes on May 2.

Eyeing a significant share of Bengal’s Dalit and tribal votes, both BJP national president JP Nadda and chief minister and TMC chairperson Mamata Banerjee have separately promised the formation of a commission to include castes like Mahisya, Teli, Tamul and Saha in the OBC category.

Though caste politics was present in West Bengal for decades, this time the TMC and BJP engaged in an electoral battle that was also blatantly divided on religious lines like never before, observers say.

The reasons behind the growing discontent among the Dalits and backward classes are disparities in the implementation of the Mandal Commission report and alleged negligence towards the needs of the communities for decades. The Mandal Commission— set up in 1979 by the-then Prime Minister Morarji Desai’s Janata Party government to consider the issue of caste-based reservation— recognised 177 OBC castes in West Bengal. But the state’s Left Front government under Jyoti Basu recognised 64 communities, including nine Muslim castes, as OBCs and provided them 7 per cent reservation in 1993.

News Source: News18

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