In an 11-page report submitted to Chief Secretary and Director General of Police (DGP) of West Bengal, the National Commission of Scheduled Tribes said that the tribal population of the state is living in fear. Besides, according to the report, they are unable to lodge any complaints with the police or revenue officials against atrocities committed against them.
“The situation in the state of West Bengal is a manifestation of ‘law of ruler’, instead of ‘Rule of Law’,” the report said. The report alleged that the state government has shown “appalling apathy” towards the plight of the victims of post-poll violence.
Earlier, National Human Rights Commission had submitted a 50-page report to the Calcutta High Court on the post-poll violence in the state. “This was retributive violence by supporters of the ruling party against supporters of the main opposition party. It resulted in disruption of life and livelihood of thousands of people and their economic strangulation. The local police have been grossly derelict, if not complicit, in this violence,” NHRC said in the 50-page report.
In Bengal, BJP’s prime voter base consists of OBCs, SC, and STs. Riding on the popularity of these communities, the party managed to win 18 out of 42 seats in the 2019 general elections in West Bengal. In the 2019 elections, the party majorly won in rural constituencies, primarily in the Western and Northern regions of the state.
The politics of West Bengal has always been dominated by the Bhadralok Community, which constitutes three upper castes- Brahmin, Baidya, and Kayastha. These castes account for just 20 per cent of the state’s total population. However, the CMs of the state– whether they were from CPM, Congress, or TMC– have been from the Bhadralok community. OBCs, SCs, and STs never had a say in the politics of Bengal. And this was because the Communist Party never recognized the role of caste in social upliftment.
After the Mandal Commission report suggested for a quota to Other Backward Classes, the then CM of West Bengal, Jyoti Basu said, “West Bengal has only two castes- rich and poor.” The Communists never realized the peculiar nature of Indian society where caste matters more than class, and therefore, the politics of the state remained in Bhadralok elitism.
Mamata Banerjee, the CM of the state for the last 9 years, ran her government just like the Communists did. The only difference was that she carried out even a greater degree of Muslim appeasement. The state has a 17% quota for OBCs, 10 per cent of which is reserved for Muslims. Hindu OBCs constitute more than half of the total OBC population but their quota share is less than that of the Muslims. Apart from this, the state has a 22% quota for SCs and 6% for STs in the state government jobs and the state-supported educational institutions.
Therefore, BJP is targeting the Hindu OBC votes to come to power in the state. Since the early 2010s, RSS has been tirelessly working in the state, especially in the OBC and ST-dominated areas. Dilip Ghosh, the current President of West Bengal BJP who was appointed in 2015, comes from the Sadgop caste and is from the Jungle Mahal region of West Bengal.
The party has performed excellently in both the 2016 assembly elections and the 2019 general elections since Ghosh was appointed as the President in the region. In the 2019 general elections, the party won 40.64% votes in the state- only 3% less than that of TMC. In both the elections, the party gave tickets to a large number of Hindu OBCs, who have been traditionally ignored by all three mainstream parties of the state. In the 2021 assembly election too, although BJP lost the election it won 77 seats with the majority of them being in areas dominated by marginalized populations.
The shift of loyalties of the marginalized section of the society did not go well with TMC and its goons and they unleashed violence upon them after the elections. And Mamata Banerjee government, instead of providing protection to the vulnerable population, is defending the oppressors.