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

West BengalSubscribe to West Bengal

Is Mamata Banerjee a Viable Alternative to Narendra Modi?

In her years as chief minister, Mamata Banerjee’s leadership has also been questioned for her authoritarian tendencies.

Is There A Second Wave of Dalit Upsurge in West Bengal?

The Matua movement that lost momentum after raising hopes of Dalit awakening in West Bengal appears to have received fresh impetus again. But is it too early to pass verdict on the future trajectory of the movement and Dalit politics in general?

Strengthening Fiscal Health of Urban Local Bodies

In West Bengal, municipal fiscal indicators have improved, but municipality finances are in a grossly unsatisfactory state. Inter-category fiscal disparities are large. Own source revenue is insufficient to cover revenue expenditure. Therefore, municipalities are dependent on intergovernmental transfers, and their fiscal autonomy is limited. Intergovernmental transfers are equalising in nature. There is an increasing need for adequate resources, especially owing to the decentralisation of urban service delivery, and a need for strengthening the fiscal health of urban local bodies by increasing own source revenue or intergovernmental transfers, by restructuring intergovernmental transfers, or by performing both actions.

‘Cultural Misrecognition’ and the Sustenance of Trinamool Congress in West Bengal

The assembly elections in West Bengal in 2016 were historic not only because the Trinamool Congress was given a second chance with a massive mandate, but also because, for the first time in decades, a single political party managed to win the election. Moreover, the TMC secured victory in most of the traditional left bastions, making the Left Front virtually insignificant in state politics. While populist and direct-benefit schemes are most prominently seen as the reasons behind the party’s success, there also exist the hitherto unaddressed alternatives to the Left Front government’s systematic development of “party society.” The promotion of traditional cultural expressions conceptualised as “cultural misrecognition” helped the TMC sustain its control and also attracted votes of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes of the state who traditionally constituted the support base of the left.

Ashok Mitra (1928–2018)

Ashok Mitra remained arekrakam (of another kind), insisting that the left could only survive and thrive if it does not abandon its ideology and principled politics. This Arekrakam legacy he leaves behind—als0 in the form of the journal he established by the same name—will remain a powerful inspiration for all efforts to resuscitate and rejuvenate the left movement in Bengal and elsewhere.

Everyday Politics and Corruption in West Bengal

Trinamool Congress’s decisive second term in West Bengal in 2016, even after serious corruption charges were levied on the party, makes it clear that corruption is not as important as was thought by the opposition. It is argued that corruption is conceived as a “necessary evil,” linked with quick and tangible delivery of public services. The recent rise of Bharatiya Janata Party, parallel to religious polarisation in the state, indicates a shrinking political space for non-BJP opposition in West Bengal.

Communal Politics Gaining Ground in West Bengal

The steady decline of the left and the Congress has created a political vacuum in West Bengal. While the Trinamool Congress government consolidated its support base with important populist measures, some of its pro-Muslim policies drew flak from a section of the Hindus. The Bharatiya Janata Party is trying to enter into Bengal politics by attacking the TMC on its appeasement policy and is trying to whip up pro-Hindu sentiments. With the weakening of secular democratic forces, the polarisation of the society on communal lines is taking place with much vigour.

Rereading a Tale of Workers’ Insurgency

​ The Crisis of 1974: Railway Strike and the Rank and File by Ranabir Samaddar; Delhi: Primus Books, 2016; pp x+186, 850 (hardcover).

Banking for the Poor

Bandhan: The Making of a Bank by Tamal Bandyopadhyay, Gurgaon: Penguin Books India, 2016; pp 304, ₹ 414.

Socio-economic Status of Muslims in West Bengal

Notwithstanding methodological differences, the findings of successive reports on the socio-economic conditions of Muslims in West Bengal show a significant improvement of the community in the state. Muslim majority districts such as Murshidabad and Malda show better performance of some socio-economic indicators like literacy and employment in government jobs than the non-Muslim population among the surveys.

The Enigma of Alternative

It is worth reflecting on what exactly is wrong with the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam and the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam ruling alternatively in Tamil Nadu. The commonsensical discontent appears to be absorbed by the pendulum swing of change of governments. Hence, the critical sense now demands an alternative to such a containment of change.

West Bengal Elections

There is no end to mining into the depths of the Bengali psyche to uncover a vast underbelly of popular prejudices, political naiveté , ab surd hopes, selfish interests, blind vengeance that were cunningly manipulated by Mamata Banerjee to shift the electoral verdict in her favour. Her promise of extension of freebies to all sections of society had seduced the voters to elect her, in a trade-off between their self-interest on the one hand, and democratic rights on the other. They are willing to sacrifice the latter, and remain mute spectators to the suppression of political opposition and dissent.

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