An absent-minded casteism?


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WHAT became of the caste question in West Bengal is often asked, but seldom considered at any length in scholarly literature. Since West Bengal has not seen caste based mobilizations of the kind witnessed in Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh, or Tamil Nadu, much less the centrality of caste related issues in legislative politics, a fairly well dispersed common sense has developed that the state, somehow, was able to relieve itself of such ‘backward’ attachments, and whatever animosities which existed in the past were dissolved by the exceptionality of the Bengali social, be it the Congress paternalism which reigned shortly after 1947, or the supposed compact with the Communist regimes that followed. There is, however, a small body of literature that has accumulated, even if pronouncements have remained tentative and by default limited, both in the kinds of questions asked as well as the variety and scope of materials consulted.1 

After reviewing a number of extant explanations for the decline or absence of caste in the political discourse of West Bengal since 1947, including one which explicitly rejects the possibility of upper caste conspiracy, I suggest the need for grappling with the vexed problem of agency with respect to the following anomaly: the domination of this state’s political, social, and cultural domains by the upper castes, even as it was surely proclaimed that caste did not matter.


I touch on three key dimensions of the Dalit political in postcolonial West Bengal which, for the most part, have elicited limited comment: Jogendranath Mandal’s post-Partition career as a refugee leader and failed aspirant to political power, a brief history of the Congress and Communist regimes’ observation of reservation policies, and contemporary activist discourse about the politics of caste, in order to demonstrate why the making of upper caste domination in West Bengal was by no means a process the bhadralok stumbled upon through sheer circumstance and structural constraint alone; reluctant, or absent-minded casteists, as it were.2 

The relevant question, it seems to me, is to explore the ways in which the making of caste Hindu domination was a conscious process.3 While there are indeed a number of compelling explanations at hand, we must also consider the possibility that the disproportionate influence commanded by the upper castes of West Bengal and the related silence surrounding the caste question, was the outcome of a deliberated discrimination. Caste domination required and requires the work of prejudice. While a rejection of the term conspiracy obscures the mindfulness in the production and prolonging of domination, it also ultimately denies plausibility to Dalit understandings of their past and present. I wish to call into question the supposition that what we have seen in West Bengal since Independence is a caste dominance with hegemony, an order to which Dalits have seemingly meekly acquiesced, accommodated, and consented. I submit that the peculiarity of West Bengal’s caste question is determined by a political culture historically hostile to the very idea of Dalit political autonomy and differentiated citizenship.


The alleged decline of caste consciousness, for one, was and continues to be a deeply held collective self-perception and conviction. Caste, or so it is often believed, simply did not matter to Bengalis in the way it did in other parts of India – Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh and Bihar are often pointed to (somewhat deprecatingly) as states where politics has not been enlightened enough to move beyond such loyalties. It happens there, not here. For a great many reasons, there indeed was a subsumption of caste identification in postcolonial West Bengal, as the late Anjan Ghosh once put it in the title of an essay published in this magazine, ‘Cast(e) out in West Bengal’.4 

But we must also ask how forms of social and political inequality along caste hierarchies preponderated despite (or perhaps because of) the avowed denial of principles expressing their valence. For the facticity of upper caste dominance, its assuredness as it were, is a notable feature of public life in contrast to neighbouring and other Indian states. There is no sense that noblesse oblige is under threat. What we have then is a province where the Dalit movement was amongst the strongest in late colonial India, followed by the decline of caste in political discourse in a West Bengal dominated by upper castes. How have scholars understood this change?


While the relative neglect of the study of caste in Bengal was in part a consequence of the view held by upper caste intellectuals of essentially all major historiographical schools that caste was not an especially meaningful category of analysis of Bengali society, there are nevertheless, signs that a gradual shift in this consensus is under way.5 Undoubtedly the pioneering historian of caste politics in 20th century Bengal, Sekhar Bandyopadhyay recently extended the insights of his previous work on the colonial period and the stress he placed on Dalit integration with Indian nationalism into the postcolonial. He argued that the Partition violence and refugee influx ‘led to a rephrasing of the idioms of victimhood and resistance, placing less emphasis on caste and focusing more on the predicament of displacement and the struggles of the refugees. These idioms could be more easily absorbed into the modern tropes of social justice deployed by the left-liberal ideologies of the state. Hence, while caste discrimination did not disappear, it was subsumed in a different idiom, marked by the dominant discourse of class and religion.’6 

Bandyopadhyay showed how in East Pakistan, Dalits who hadn’t migrated prior to Partition like many amongst the upper caste gentry, increasingly became the targets of anti-Hindu intimidation and harassment and were apprehended as but part of the Hindu minority. The Congress and Mahasabha increasingly assimilated acts of violence against them as evidence of the anti-Hindu policies of Pakistan, and as Joya Chatterji has shown in her book dealing with the post-Partition context, which led to retaliatory violence on Muslim minorities in West Bengal by Dalit refugees who had fled East Pakistan. Bandyopadhyay thus argued that, ‘Caste mattered less in Bengal at this juncture.’7 


This decline in the importance of caste was also apparent in the formal domain of politics. Even as he noted the sparse extant research and thus his own consequently broad overview, ‘…the discourse of class, alongside the discourses of nation and religion, displaced that of caste at this historical juncture, marking the onset of freedom and Partition.’8 From the 1950s onwards, Dalits were drawn to the rising Communist tide over the course of the refugee movement which, it is argued, was able to channel their class based grievances and retain their electoral loyalty.


A new postscript in the second edition of Bandyopadhyay’s masterpiece sheds more light on caste in post-colonial West Bengal.9 In particular, he asserts that there was no one story of how Dalits negotiated the Indian Republic. To this end, he stresses the recent rise of the importance of the Namasudra Matua sect to West Bengal politics and its novel engagement with both contemporary power blocs and, furthermore, suggests that theirs is a story of ‘Dalit agency and empowerment’ rather in contrast to what he sees as the anti-Hinduism and minoritarianism of mainstream Dalit politics. Although there are key overlaps in factors they emphasize, where Bandyopadhyay sees in developments with the Matua sect the ‘return of an organized Dalit voice in the postcolonial politics of West Bengal,’10 Partha Chatterjee claims it is ‘unclear that this represents a political resurgence of caste in Bengal politics.’11 The latter does not believe that the historic change of political regime in 2011 will result in any related transformation.

Chatterjee’s explanations for the ‘absence of caste articulation of organized political demands’ include the social-structural, emphasizing the complete dominance and preponderance of the upper castes in the capital Calcutta in particular, largely cut off from substantial ties to the land.12 His point is that their overwhelming dominance in the city, which in any case exerted a disproportionate influence over the rest of the province, consigned them in a sense, to this role.

Chatterjee notes that a persistent observation about modern Bengali society and polity ‘strangely enough, has concerned the phenomenon of upper caste domination.’13 Particularly after Partition, ‘…when battlelines have been drawn, the upper caste intelligentsia were to be found in leading roles in every contending party – the ruling party and the party of the opposition, parties of status quo and parties of change.’14 While he does not quite probe how upper caste dominance came into being, much less be maintained, and appears to suggest that the upper castes were somehow helpless supremacists, more recently he has expressed the opinion that to view the phenomenon as a conspiracy would be to understand a complex process in a ‘very simple manner.’15 


There are a range of other fairly convincing explanatory factors he points to: the disruptive effect of Partition itself, the absence of a single dominant caste, the subsiding of caste consciousness through social mobility, and the Dalit engagement with the Left. As he puts it, ‘Is there any imperative that one undertake an autonomous caste based movement? Why should one desire that in connection with progressive politics in any case?’16 Later on, having jettisoned the possibility of conspiracy, he continues that the misrecognition of caste stemmed from a sincerely held proposition: ‘That West Bengal’s intellectuals and political leaders deeply believed that caste inequality was a superstition of the middle ages and class equality was the future course of human history, is not difficult to conceive.’17 One of the implications of this view would certainly be then that caste domination was somehow the unintended consequence of otherwise noble intentions.


Taken together, the broad narrative at hand almost seems to suggest that the upper castes themselves had little to do with their domination of West Bengal – due to the entire series of causes recounted above, the analysis remains in a sense agreed that Dalits effectively consented to upper caste supremacy, itself the consequence of multiple circumstances. Upper caste domination came about through a series of contingencies; we don’t get the best sense of how it was exercised, nor any explicit criticism thereof. The explanation for the decline of caste and caste Hindu domination becomes, curiously enough, Dalits themselves. Like the Indians who purportedly enabled British colonialism, Dalits become the reason for upper caste domination by virtue of the fact of their seeming ‘collaboration’. We appear, as it were, to have exonerated the upper castes from their exercise of power.

As I hope to show, running parallel, even somewhat in contrast to these narratives of nationalist and Communist romance, is one where the silencing of Dalit agency in Bengal politics was very much a deliberate affair. Moreover, we will see that the category, conspiracy, performs an important role in Dalit self-understandings. The question of whether upper caste domination was conspiratorial or not may thus be bracketed in favour of considering evidence which indicate fairly well considered positions in each case. The caste Hindus of West Bengal actively sought their domination of that state’s political, social, and cultural resources.


Jogendranath Mandal’s post-1947 career as a refugee leader, Dalit activist, and failed aspirant to political power is of particular interest to the question at hand primarily because it was he, arguably more than any other Bengali Dalit leader of the time, who was at the forefront of caste radicalism in the late 1940s.18 His experiences in postcolonial West Bengal might be seen as drawing into view the prevalence of anti-Dalit persuasion.

Several features distinguish the conditions under which Mandal would return to political activity in West Bengal following a period of disengagement in wake of his resignation. It is clear, for instance, that despite the ironic and utterly false culpability for Partition that both caste Hindu and Dalit critics placed on him, all major parties were aware of his legitimacy in the eyes of vast numbers of Namasudra refugees who arrived in West Bengal after 1950. Indeed, Mandal was closely involved with upper caste Communist and Socialist leaders of the refugee movement in the latter part of the decade. As the following newspaper report suggests, he was one of the crucial links between the leftist and upper caste refugee leaders and Dalit refugees themselves.

‘Jogen Mondal’s advent in refugee politics is a major event. At present, more than three-fourths of the camps’ refugee residents are people of the Namasudra community. Jogen Mandal’s influence over them is extraordinary. Outside the camps nearly 20 lakh Namasudras have come to Bengal. Even they follow Mandal unreservedly. Amongst the refugee societies, two are paramount – the P.S.P.’s Sara Bangla Bastuhara Sammelan and the Communists’ and Forward Bloc’s UCRC. Upon Jogen Mandal joining the Sara Bangla group, they have been able to hold satyagrahas. It is indeed he who has gathered the satyagraha’s fodder.’19 


Mandal’s exceptional role in ‘gathering the fodder’ for the refugee movements is significant both in terms of the well-known proposition that the Left rose to power through mobilizing refugees, as well as because of the many considerable differences which developed between him and his Socialist and Communist comrades. Perhaps a crucial one concerned how they perceived the forced removal of almost exclusively Dalit refugees from the state of West Bengal, as late-colonial assurances of guaranteed rehabilitation gradually withered over the course of the decade.

The refugee movement began its first major wave of demonstrations against the proposals for rehabilitation elsewhere in India when the Congress government claimed to have hit a land ceiling, and thus unable to rehabilitate the swelling ranks of Dalit refugees from East Pakistan. According to contemporary reports, Mandal ‘has been spreading class and caste hatred openly in camps.’20 He ‘openly accused caste Hindu employees and caste Hindu people for sending refugee families to Madhya Pradesh outside West Bengal’, and furthermore, accused the government of trying to make West Bengal into ‘a caste Hindu state.’21 Clearly, for Mandal, the government’s rehabilitation policies were discriminatory. The drive for the coerced dispersal of refugees outside West Bengal was fundamentally mediated by the fact they were Dalit.


After Mandal died in 1968, a self-described ‘earnest follower’, one Sri Dhirendra Nath Sarkar, wrote a pamphlet in his remembrance.22 Likely read out as an address, Sarkar’s audience would have known Mandal as ‘our leader’; the writing intended then for a sympathetic Namasudra public. Addressing why Mandal’s efforts for rehabilitation within West Bengal bore no fruition, he reasoned: ‘It didn’t happen precisely because of several conspiring Congress and Leftist leaders. This is a clear example of the effort to prevent the consolidation of the powerful Scheduled refugees of East Bengal in West Bengal. Solely because of this, uprooting them, you’ve settled them in Bharat’s distant mountains and forest areas in the name of rehabilitation. This is the abominable rehabilitation pre-planned by several so-called caste Hindu political parties of Bengal.’23 

At least some of the refugees with whom Mandal struggled thus looked upon their forced removal from West Bengal as determined by the fact that they were Dalits, while those who planned their relocation were caste Hindus. In Sarkar’s understanding, what lay behind their second dislocation from West Bengal to elsewhere in the country (having already endured the first, from East to West), was the intention to hinder their consolidation. Unsurprising then, he noted that not a single one of ‘our families’ was included amongst the thousands rehabilitated within Calcutta.


It is irrelevant whether in fact caste Hindu political parties forcibly rehabilitated predominantly Namasudra refugees outside West Bengal in order to prevent their political regrouping – a proposition, in any case, difficult to prove conclusively even if plausible (which many will no doubt rush to object). What matters is that these were precisely the categorial terms through which Mandal and his Namasudra refugee followers perceived their collective condition; conspiracy indeed bore salience for Sarkar. It is certainly worth asking in this connection just how many were rehabilitated outside the state, for then we might assess the absence of a dominant caste in West Bengal anew.

Jogendranath Mandal’s failure to re-enter the world of legislative politics furnishes further evidence of the will to simultaneously capitalize on his appeal, yet to also keep him outside the corridors of power. In his view, his political defeat was largely a consequence of the negative publicity generated about him, in particular his alleged responsibility for the partition of Bengal. Having found no other reason with which to accuse him, Mandal noted in his autobiography that he felt an unnamed ‘group of conspirators’ attributed such false accusations to him because they ‘want to keep him entirely restrained.’24 So much so that even circles within the Namasudra community held him accountable for Partition and the horror it brought in its wake.

While this may well sound like an embittered man grasping for explanations for his political impotence in a cynical reading, the proposition may not be entirely amiss. There were indeed sustained efforts over the previous decades to mould the emergence of a largely compliant Dalit leadership and public, and marginalize any radical tendencies.


Consider the fact of his betrayal by potential Communist allies who, having reaped the dividends of his agreement to canvass for them during elections, jettisoned him from consideration for public office, not once but twice. In the first instance, caste Hindu voters of the constituency were explicitly directed not to vote for him despite his having campaigned for them. In the latter, a blatant betrayal of promises assured in return for electoral assistance.

Mandal indeed attempted to adjust his own thinking on questions of political strategy in a manner that roughly shadowed the trajectory of debate within the Republican Party of India, and in so doing, had left open the possibility that one with his ideological commitments might find support within sympathetic leftist circles. But this was not to be. Perhaps no surprise then that one of Mandal’s final assessments of the Communists amounted to the following: ‘…they are even more devilish than the Congress. They are destroying the community by taking some of the Scheduled Caste youth in with sweet words on the speech dais. They are entirely determined that a collectivity does not develop amongst these 80 per cent backward classes.’25 

Mandal’s experience with the ascendant West Bengali Left, therefore, taught him little of the success of their appeal to Dalits, rather bespoke the Communist desire to dissuade Dalit politicization. And again, the category conspiracy, deployed by the most radical Dalit politician Bengal ever produced. To suggest that he had an inadequate understanding of what was happening to him and his community is, in my view, an implausible proposition.


The history of reservations policy in West Bengal is a subject that, unsurprisingly, has received negligible commentary thus far. Barring scanty official data – the typical non-accumulation of which is itself constitutive of the micro-techniques of caste prejudice – we have little examination of how and why caste Hindus so strenuously refused to give full effect to constitutional fiat. What is clear is that from the very first days of the Republic, West Bengal’s caste elites have consistently expressed their distaste for the exceptional provisions of differentiated citizenship.

During the debate on the draft constitution amongst members of the West Bengal legislative assembly in 1948, the leading lights of the Congress unanimously and baldly assailed the provisions being considered for Dalits in particular. Prafulla Chandra Ghosh, the first chief minister of West Bengal declared, ‘The sooner this reservation goes the better.’ He concluded: ‘We are all free now, and there should be no reservation.’ Many others joined in the chorus; the removal of Scheduled Caste privileges was an ‘absolute necessity.’26 At the dawn of post-colonial constitutionality then – the horizon to which the Congress gestured in response to Dalit leaders’ demands during the late colonial – Indian nationalists once again professed their reluctance to concede their logic. Nothing they saw in their society justified the arrangements proposed by the draft constitution. Theirs was the earnest dissuasion if not rejection of reservations policy as a means by which to attain a more egalitarian rule.


As anyone who may have taken the trouble to investigate will know, the fairly steady stream of petitions for the redress of Dalit grievances about the non-implementation of reservation quotas and related procedures issuing not only from activist organizations like those Mandal formed in the 1950s and 1960s, but from Dalit Congress MLAs as well, as well as innumerable prospective students and employees, speaks to the, for all intents and purposes, abrogation of this dimension of the law. The data (as well as its absence) collated by the Commissioner for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes and other centrally appointed agencies testifies to the ubiquity of caste prejudice in the governance of Bengal.

For all its presumed camaraderie and dissolution of caste practices, Communist rule did not mean that reservation policies were observed. This is hardly to suggest that the very substantial developments and transformations which have taken place amongst Namasudras, for instance, are of no significance, even if they must be placed alongside similar indices for other communities for them to acquire any meaningful social significance. But neither can there be any doubt that the systematic withholding of constitutional entitlement stemmed from subjective certitude.


Upendranath Biswas, the Backward Classes minister appointed under the new dispensation in West Bengal, summed up what he inherited as follows: a backlog of 1,36,000 cases for the issuance of caste certificates; non-observance of reservations policy in almost all government departments; non-functioning and inefficient programs in his own department; and a research wing with 55 vacant posts, a vehicle junked through disuse, its signboard on the ground.27 Responding to a question in an interview with Outlook magazine he explained:

‘…the dominance of upper castes is so intense in Bengal that low castes don’t dare to even launch an agitation against them – their dominance is accepted as divine dispensation. The situation is worse than in Bihar. Bengal has not produced a Jagjivan Ram, Ramvilas Paswan, Nitish Kumar, Lalu Prasad or Mayawati. Upper castes – Brahmins, Kayasths and Baidyas – comprise hardly 20 per cent of the population but are ruling over 80 per cent… When it comes to hypocrisy, nobody can beat the Bengali bhadralok.’28 

Implicit in Biswas’ response is an allusion to a conscious domination. In reply to the perennial question about why all chief ministers of West Bengal have been upper caste: ‘Social discrimination has prevented others from becoming CM. Equal opportunity is not available to everyone. Ours is a closed and non-inclusive society.’29 The critique extends equally, he adds, to his own party.


I wish to end with a consideration of the following image: Featured are all the chief ministers in West Bengal’s history and the title reads: ‘Non-Bengali rulers in Bengal.’ I came across the image on Facebook, and the associated comments offer an instructive window into Dalit understandings of the present. It underscores the unthinkability of a Dalit chief minister in a state that is home, as per the 2001 Census, to the second largest number of Scheduled Castes in any Indian state, and third highest as per a percentage of its population; yet it has never seen a significant number of Dalit ministers assume control of any of the major departments of government. The title declares that West Bengal has been governed by non-Bengalis on account of their upper caste background – a denial of cultural legitimacy to those – the upper caste bhadralok – who have most extolled its virtues. Dhappabaji is the term I have often heard used to connote upper caste rule.


What I have learned from those with whom I have discussed the caste question in West Bengal is that at the root of the present Dalit predicament is the insurmountable struggle with the political will of an abstract caste Hindu subject – diffuse, amorphous, no doubt, but nonetheless no less effective in its production of material inequalities, bodily and psychic wound, and death. This is not to say that there is no critique amongst Dalits themselves. Many who have benefited from the political process are perceived as opportunistic and self-serving, unconcerned with Dalit interests per se. Yet, there has remained an anxiety over the failure of Dalit politics and its intense factionalism, as a growing number of public gatherings discussing possibilities for political unity would indicate.


Upper caste domination and its obverse, the silence about caste in political discourse in West Bengal, was (and continues to be) made possible in a political culture deeply prejudiced towards Dalit mobilization. I do not discount the many other explanations proposed. Yet it certainly seems to me that the much larger project of understanding how caste was lived in post-colonial West Bengal cannot afford to ignore the potency of conspiracy in Dalit understandings of what has come to pass, or the ample evidence at hand which illustrates a mindful and pervasive prejudice.


* Many thanks to Amrita Basu, Nusrat Chowdhury, Johan Mathew, Tanika Sarkar, Uditi Sen, Krupa Shandilya, Julia Stephens, and Colleen Woods, for their comments and suggestions on an earlier draft of this essay.


1.To date, for instance, we have no monographic historical treatment of caste in postcolonial West Bengal.

2. No doubt there are countless other instances that would illustrate my broader proposition; notably, the Marichjhanpi massacre.

3. In this, I share Satish Deshpande’s (as well as others’) view that what is required is a ‘biography of the "general category" to grasp the dynamics of the invisibilization of caste.’ Satish Deshpande, ‘Caste and Castelessness: Towards a Biography of the "General Category"’

4. Anjan Ghosh, ‘Cast(e) out in West Bengal’

5. It is certainly noteworthy that not a single one of the essays published in the entire Subaltern Studies series, for instance, dealt centrally with the theme of caste and politics in 20th century Bengal. See the following for recent contributions which challenge the purported irrelevance of caste to Bengal: Uday Chandra and Kenneth Bo Nielsen, ‘The Importance of Caste in Bengal’, Economic and Political Weekly, Vol. XLVII, 3 November 2012; Sarbani Bandyopadhyay, ‘Caste and Politics in Bengal’, Economic and Political Weekly, Vol. XLVII, 15 December 2012; Dayabati Roy, ‘Caste and Power: An Ethnography in West Bengal, India’, Modern Asian Studies 46, 2011; Santosh Rana and Kumar Rana, Pascimbange Dalit o Adibasi, Kyamp, Kolkata, 2009.That said, it cannot be denied that compared, for instance, to the historical study of Dalit movements elsewhere in India or the density of historiography on race relations in, say, mid-20th century Virginia, interest in this topic has been scant at best.

6. Sekhar Bandyopadhyay, ‘Partition and the Ruptures in Dalit Identity Politics in Bengal’, Asian Studies Review 33, 2009, p. 456.

7. Ibid., p. 460.

8. Ibid., p. 463.

9. Sekhar Bandyopadhyay, Caste, Protest and Identity: The Namasudras of Colonial Bengal, 1872-1947 (second edition). Oxford University Press, Delhi, 2011.

10. Ibid., p. 272.

11. Partha Chatterjee, ‘Historicising Caste in Bengal Politics’, Economic and Political Weekly, Vol. XLVII, 15 December 2012.

12. Partha Chatterjee, The Present History of West Bengal: Essays in Political Criticism. Oxford University Press, Delhi, 1998, p. 81.

13. Ibid., p. 69.

14. Ibid., p. 81.

15. Partha Chattopadhyay, ‘Pascimbangla-yjati o janajati’, Baromas (saradiya), 2010, p. 105.

16. Ibid., p. 104.

17. Ibid., p. 105.

18. See my dissertation, The Emergence and Decline of Dalit Politics in Bengal: Jogendranath Mandal, the Scheduled Castes Federation, and Partition, 1932-1968, University of Chicago, 2012, for further details. Mandal oversaw the expansion of B.R. Ambedkar’s Scheduled Castes Federation in the province during that decade, enabled Ambedkar’s election to the Constituent Assembly from Bengal, and served in the last two Muslim League controlled governments of Bengal. In so doing, he bore the brunt of Bengali Hindu animus and hostility towards Ambedkarite politics. He returned to West Bengal in 1950, upon resigning his ministerial positions in the Government of Pakistan (which he had joined in 1947) in the context of the mutually reinforcing communal violence on both sides of the newly created border.

19. ‘UdbastuRajniti’, Yugbani, 31 May 1958.

20. I.B. Officer’s Report, 15 March 1958, File No. 1483/32: Pran Krishna Chakrabarti.

21. Ibid.

22. Dhirendranath Sarkar, Deshbarenya Neta O Jatir Janak: Svargiya Jogendranath Mandal Mahashayer Prati Shradhhanjali O Shesh Jibaner Kayekti Katha. Kalakata, n.d., p. 2.

23. Ibid.

24. Jogendranath Mandal, Aprakasita Atmakatha, p. 419.

25. Sarkar, Deshbarenya Neta O Jatir Janak, op cit., p. 6.

26. Extract from the Assembly Proceedings, Official Report, West Bengal Legislative Assembly, Debate on the Draft Constitution. West Bengal Government Press, Alipore, 1948.

27. Backward Classes Welfare Department, Government of West Bengal, Annual Administrative Report, 2010-2011. http://www. report-10-11.pdf

28. S.N.M. Abdi interview with U.N. Biswas, ‘Bengal Hasn’t Produced a Jagjivan Ram or Even a Mayawati.’ http://www.outlookindia. com/article.aspx?281957

29. Ibid.