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

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West Bengal Elections

Unchanged amidst Change

Despite the rising influence of the subaltern classes in West Bengal politics, the predominance of the bhadralok culture largely remains intact. A response to Ranabir Samaddar's, "West Bengal Elections: The Verdict of Politics" (EPW, 11 June 2016).

The populist and plebeian brand of politics practised by the All India Trinamool Congress (TMC) has continually come under scrutiny from the educated bhadralok. Giving credence to the general perception of a wide gulf between Mamata Banerjee and the common bhadralok Bengali, Ranabir Samaddar has highlighted the uneasiness of the bhadralok with this kind of politics in his article titled “West Bengal Elections: The Verdict of Politics” (EPW, 11 June 2016). Though such a perception has some practical basis, one has to be careful about overemphasising it.

Samaddar has observed that the results of the assembly elections point to the increasing subalternisation of Bengali politics leading to the political retreat of the bhadralok or the intellectual classes of Bengal. Does this retreat mean that the political culture of the state has fully freed itself from the bhadralok influence? For finding answer to this query, we need to understand the complex interaction between the Bengali bhadraloks and an apparently non-bhadralok political force and also have to investigate the commonly held proposition that the TMC and its mercurial leader, Mamata Banerjee, stand for values which are not only alien, but also antithetical to the bhadralok culture.

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