Negotiating Caste and Politics: Rise of Matua Mahasangha
Ms Manisha Majumdar, PhD Scholar of Political Science, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, India
Anticasteism can be theorized in relation to the assertiveness by the lower caste in the given
society. When one talks of caste, West Bengal takes the back stage, however, things started to change when Matua Mahasangha emerged in the picture. Caste has always been seen as
synonymous with violence which is why sometimes it would create a delusion that there is no
caste in Bengal, for the absence of severe physical atrocities on lower caste by the upper caste.
However, the question arises whether one can think of casteism only in relation to violence or
there are some other factors involved as well which if ignored can lead to dismissal of a very
significant question? Also, the political ideology in West Bengal during CPI( M) also led to the situation where caste question was pushed under the carpet. For CPI(M) , the society was divided in haves or haves not. It was only under Trinamool Congress regime that caste again came into the forefront of the Bengal politics in the form of Matua Mahasangha. It was during TMC that MM could finally be seen in relation to institutional politics as it was seen during colonial period. However, its assertiveness also comes with severe speculations as there is involvement of different political parties with vote bank politics as was seen during 2021 election. Also significant is the entry of BJP in West Bengal politics with members of Thakur family backing the party. Therefore, my research would look into the theorizing of anticasteism in relation with the assertiveness of the Matua Mahasangha in West Bengal politics with its many layers of family politics and push from external politics.