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

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Bengali Nationalism

The editorial entitled “Stalemate in Bengal?” (EPW, 21 March 2009) identifies some important factors that explain the politics of the state. I would like to add that the sentiment of Bengali patriotism has also mattered in influencing the political behaviour of Bengalis. Jyoti Basu symbolised Bengali assertion against the central authority. The new leadership in the state has been unable to give adequate expression to that sentiment.

The same people at one time hailed Subhash Chandra Bose as their hero. He, of course, was no less popular in the rest of the country as he led a militant movement for national freedom. But West Bengal is the only state where the party he founded, namely, the Forward Bloc, remained active and is alive till today. It is part of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)-led coalition government. Communists had condemned Bose as an agent of fascism for his association with the fascist powers and had supported the British government during the second world war, which they had called “people’s war”. But they could not ignore his Forward Bloc in forming a government in 1977.

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