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

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Bengali Identity, Sociopolitical Hegemony of Caste and the Emergence of Subnationalism

Unravelling the Bengali Identity: Sub-nationalism and Nationalism in Nineteenth-Century Bengal by Sumanta Banerjee, Kolkata: Purbalok Publication, 2020, pp 198, `280.

This is a 1991–92 ICHR (Indian Council of Historical Research) project that was transformed into a book in 2020 by Sumanta Banerjee with a new introduction to engage with the contemporary sociopolitical developments. In fact, the book begins with a larger problematic of defining and constructing an “Indian nation” and confronts the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led central government for imposing a “centralised order” in the name of nationalism in order to bring about a hegemonic sociopolitical cultural order that suits majoritarian Hindu beliefs and customs. The author premises his book on late 18th century when upper-caste Hindu bhadraloks assertions for a distinct subnational Bengali identity clashed with the nationalist factions of the Indian National Congress, which led to the resignations of Bengali leaders in Congress. Though the Bengal faction of Congress leaders wanted to bring communal solidarities by accommodating Muslims through the “Bengal Pact’’ but that had to be later abandoned in the wake of objections from conservative sections of Bengali Hindu leaders like Surendranath Banerjee.

Their main fear was that if the Muslims were promised such rights, it would threaten the Bengali Hindu landlords, who provided financial support to congress politicians. They apprehended that the Muslim peasantry would demand increased share from the profits gained by the Hindu landlords. (p 27)

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Updated On : 3rd Oct, 2022
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