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

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Resolving Disagreements in Panchayats

Based on the long-term ethnographic research in four districts during a political transition in West Bengal and analysing narratives of disagreements between elected representatives and local bureaucrats in their gram panchayats, it is argued that the interface between the elected members and the bureaucracy is dialectical and is influenced by external as well as local contexts. Conflicting demands from stakeholders as well as factors like conflict, violence, elite control, and resistance from certain sections of the society could result in such disagreements. While there are instances of political “deep probe” in local bureaucracy, resultant decisions are often unpredictable and can come through unforeseen mechanisms. Informal mechanisms of resolution of disagreements, often associated with corruption, are either challenged by the counterpublics or give rise to an altered form of corruption to adjust itself to the process of political change.

Farmers’ Politics in West Bengal

After the end of 34 years of the Left Front rule, West Bengal has seen a renewed emphasis on agriculture. A decade-long ethnographic study conducted during and after the political transition unravels the reasons why such emphasis fails to benefit the small and marginal farmers, at places where...

‘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.

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.
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