As the West Bengal elections come to a close, we look back at one of the most remarkable events in the past few months, the birth of the Indian Secular Front. Led by a Furfura Sharif cleric Abbas Siddiqui, it protests the lack of development of oppressed castes and tribes and minority religions in the state. It represents these varied backgrounds among its party leadership and the candidates fielded this election.
But is there a need for Muslim, Dalit, Adivasi unity in West Bengal? In this episode, our reporter Suryatapa Mukherjee speaks to Abdul Matin, an Assistant Professor at the Department of International Relations and Political Science in Jadavpur University of Kolkata.
Matin explains how since Independence, West Bengal has increasingly moved away from a political discourse based on caste to one based on religion. He says this brand of “communal politics” benefits both the Trinamool and the BJP. West Bengal ministers holding important portfolios across Congress, Left Front and Trinamool rule have been exclusively upper caste despite upper castes making up only 13% of the population in the state.
We also discuss the prospects of the Indian Secular Front in this election before results are announced on May 2.