This post is written by Ritabrata Roy, PhD Scholar at University of Sussex, UK
I. CONTEXTUAL BACKGROUND
The state of West Bengal occupies a distinct place within the political demography of Indian sub-continent since pre-independence era. Throughout the three centuries-old colonial history of India, Calcutta (now Kolkata) which was the capital of Bengal also used to be the national capital. Therefore the state of Bengal enjoyed being the epicenter of India’s socio-political intellect that had gradually seeped into majority of the Bengalis since then. While celebrated freedom fighters such as Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose and Khudiram Bose opted to take up arms against the British rulers, renowned poets such as Rabindranath Tagore and Kazi Nazrul Islam chose to ignite the minds of young Indians through their ground-breaking contribution in revolutionary literature.
However, the much-awaited independence came at a very heavy price for Bengal. The state, alongside the entire nation was partitioned on religious grounds giving birth to then newly-formed Islamic Republic of Pakistan in year 1947. After partition, eastern part of Bengal was annexed with Pakistan, which was then regarded as East Pakistan. Thereby the religious demography of Bengal started becoming overtly re-shaped with majority of Hindus migrating into the Indian state of West Bengal, while a large section of their Muslim peers from West Bengal immigrating to East Pakistan. This continuing phenomenon of migration which began with a mere stroke of the cartographers’ pen eventually resulted in a complete overhaul of Bengal’s religious demography by year 1967. Muslims who opted to stay back in the newly formed state of West Bengal suddenly found themselves as vulnerable religious minority. They comprised of 25 percent of the total population of West Bengal, numbering about 5.3 million among the 21 million (approx.) total population of the state in 1947.
Nevertheless, partition of India (and Bengal) brought no equanimity for minorities either in India or in Pakistan. For example in West Bengal, massive influx of Hindu refugees from East Pakistan aggravated vulnerability for the native Muslims largely because these refugees started to occupy their lands for farming. This phenomenon eventually resulted in a serious threat to the Muslim community’s very existence and livelihood in the state. However, with the intervention of Dr Bidhan Chandra Roy (then Chief Minister of West Bengal) and his exceptional reformative policies of re-settlement of the refugees during early to mid-1950s, communal harmony was gradually restored.
Over the years, despite subsequent amendments to the world map with formation of Bangladesh out of Pakistan in 1971, West Bengal has largely reflected a peaceful camaraderie among its religious communities. The Government census reports (published every 10 years) manifest this fact by revealing that West Bengal records a higher growth rate of Muslim population in India, compared to other Indian states. According to 2001 census, about 20,240,543 Muslims resided in West Bengal (comprising of 25.25 percent); by 2011 the number had spiked up to 24,654,825 (approx.), comprising about 27 percent of the state’s total population.
Interestingly, the Muslim voters in West Bengal have always been regarded as a consolidated ‘vote bank’, having potential to play a decisive role in influencing any election results.[i] Therefore, starting from the era of Indian National Congress (INC 1951-1977) through the 34 years- long Left Front (1977-2011) reign to the present Trinamool Congress (TMC 2011 till date) rule, Bengali Muslims have always been the centre of attention of all electoral discourses in the state.[ii] The primary purpose of this note is to ascertain the importance of this ‘Muslim vote-bank factor’ in shaping result of the recently-concluded assembly election in West Bengal. This question has gained extraordinary relevance, particularly in the context of the rising ‘Hindutva’ sentiments within the state, largely fuelled by the Bhartiya Jananta Party’s (BJP) massive contestation in a West Bengal assembly election for the very first time.[iii]
We have divided this paper into four sections (including the current one). In Section II, we will analyse the pattern of voting by the Muslim community in West Bengal under different government regimes since independence. Thereafter in Section III, we will analyse impact of the present country-wide right-wing ‘Hindutva’ sentiment that has erupted since Parliament elections of 2014, on the performance of the incumbent TMC government in West Bengal in the 2021 assembly elections. Thereby, we will seek to answer the question: to what extent the religious identity played a determining role in influencing Muslim vote shares in the recently concluded 2021 West Bengal assembly election. Our main hypothesis is that despite religion being a dominant factor, Muslims in West Bengal have taken other crucial socio-economic developmental factors into consideration while casting their votes. Thus, we will critically ascertain the different socio-cultural and political factors that the Muslim community has largely accounted for while exercising their voting rights in West Bengal. This will be followed by Section IV which comprises of a brief conclusion to this note.
For the purpose of this note we have adopted a doctrinal method to analyse primary and secondary information which is obtained from different websites and the University of Sussex library.
II. THE SHIFTING ALLEGIANCE OF MUSLIM VOTERS IN WEST BENGAL
At the outset, it is imperative to mention that pre-election surveys have determined the existence of 30 percent (approx.) Muslim vote share in the state of West Bengal.[i] These votes are primarily concentrated within five districts: Maldah, Murshidabad, Uttar Dinajpur, South 24 Parghanas and Birbhum. Overall 70 to 80 out of 294 seats in West Bengal’s assembly election are regarded as Muslim dominated.[ii] Since independence, West Bengal has been ruled by three major political parties namely, Indian National Congress (INC), Left Front (L.F.) and Trinamool Congress (TMC). Among them, the Left Front had managed to remain in power for an unprecedented 34 years, being the only political party in India to achieve that milestone.[iii] Fascinatingly, Muslims in West Bengal have extended their support to each of these parties in different times. This reflects a trend of shifting allegiance of Muslim voters in West Bengal which is arguably determined by several socio-political and cultural aspects. In the subsequent paragraphs of this section, we will provide a critical overview of this pattern of support that the Muslim voters have shown to different political parties from time to time.
In the initial years, Dr Bidhan Roy’s successful reformative policies concerning refugee re-settlement in West Bengal proved to be highly beneficial for the Muslim community. This helped the INC to earn support of Muslims between years 1951-1977.[iv] Research indicates that Muslim voters in West Bengal sought to take part in mainstream politics by aligning themselves with the then dominant secular party, INC.[v] This overwhelming support was reflected in the 1951 assembly elections where majority of the Bengali Muslims voted for the INC.[vi] This phenomenon prevented communal parties such as the Muslim League to establish itself in West Bengal.[vii] It is noteworthy that, 80 Muslim candidates contested the West Bengal assembly elections in 1951.[viii] Out of them 21 fought on a Congress ticket, 45 were independents; while 14 contested on opposition tickets.[ix] Surprisingly, only 17 out of the 21 Congress candidates and 2 independents could only make it to the state assembly while the rest were defeated.[x] As Joya Chatterji observes that largely owing to their limited socio-cultural resources Bengali Muslims were rather pragmatic, a realist who knew how to calculate their political gains and losses, devoid of ‘fascinations’ political and religious ideologies.[xi] However, she remarks that Congress leaders were no lovers of the Muslim community.[xii] In her words:
“Wooing Muslims where they were numerous was often a matter of cynical calculations rather than genuine commitment to minority rights, and Muslims for their part did not fall for the wiles of their newfound friends”.[xiii]
Thus, towards end of the decade (1960s), INC started losing popularity among the Muslim voters in West Bengal. Distancing from INC had already started for the Muslims during the 1957 and 1961 assembly elections when the regional Muslim parties such as Rezai Mustafa, Jamat-e-Islami, Muslim Jamat and others decided to form a coalition against the ruling Congress government.[xiv] Although religion was one of the crucial agendas in both these election manifestos, results indicated rather limited success for the Muslim coalition as INC again returned to power in the state with astounding majority.[xv] However, the rift between INC and Muslims in West Bengal had gradually widened by the year 1965.[xvi] Several crucial socio-political factors contributed in aggravating these tensions, which included lack of impetus in socio-political progression of the Bengali Muslims coupled with constant marginalisation, especially from the prominent Hindu leaders of INC.[xvii] Additionally, widespread religious riots erupted in different parts of East Pakistan, which occasionally spilled over the border into parts of West Bengal.[xviii] Primarily Muslim minorities in the state were targeted in these riots and became seemingly disappointed with the Congress government for failing to prevent such violence.[xix]
Subsequently, a sharp shift in support among the Muslim voters in West Bengal began to be seen from year 1977 when majority of them started to align with the rising popularity of the Left Front.[xx] Irfan Engineer mentions that this shift in political inclination of Bengali Muslims can be credited to a growing trust in the pro-poor secular ideology and constant opposition against Hindu nationalism, endured by communists in the state.[xxi] Engineer claims, “Muslims in West Bengal ‘always voted for the Left Front’, even to the extent of bringing about the defeat of Muslim candidates fielded by the non-LF parties.”[xxii] Further the occupational demography of rural West Bengal has traditionally helped the Left Front’s cause. A nationwide survey was conducted by the Government of India appointed Sachar Committee on the status of Muslim minorities under Justice Rajender Sachar on various socio-political indicators in 2006.[xxiii] According to its report, poverty among Muslims in West Bengal was found to be worse than that of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes.[xxiv] Significant portion of the Muslim population in West Bengal were dependent upon agriculture for their livelihood, having extremely low employment level in non-agricultural sectors as compared to Hindus.[xxv] However, rural poverty index of Muslims in the state was even worse.[xxvi] Despite this, during the first three decades out of its enormous 34 years rule in the state the Left Front government did enjoy substantial support of Muslim voters, largely because of their land reforms and pro-agricultural policies.[xxvii]
Ironically however, these pro-agricultural policies which had once brought Left Front into power in West Bengal proved to be the primary reason behind their downfall by year 2011.[xxviii] Additionally there were many other crucial factors that contributed to erosion of the once loyal Muslim votes from Left Front’s account. The Sachar Committee Report, had already indicated several reasons for dissatisfaction among the Bengali Muslim voters with then ruling Left government. Firstly, there was meagre representation of Muslim leaders within decision making brass of the Left Front government. Reports indicate that while only 2 of the 17 politburo members (core decision-making body within Communist Party of India Marxist) were Muslims, merely 3 ministers in the 33 ministers-cabinet during the term of 2001-06 belonged from Muslim community.[xxix] Moreover, the Minority Affairs Ministry of the state was controlled by then Chief Minister, Buddhadeb Bhattarcharya.[xxx] Further, Muslims comprised of only 3.4% of all state employees in West Bengal in year 2006.[xxxi] In terms of education, whereas the overall mean year of schooling (MYS) for Muslims in India was 3.26, for Muslims in West Bengal MYS was far lower at 2.58.[xxxii] Additionally, with regards to overall literacy rates in the state, Muslims (57.5 percent) were far behind the Hindus (72.4 percent) in 2006.[xxxiii] The Sachar Committee also revealed whereas about 24 percent Muslims passed matriculations in India, Muslim in West Bengal lagged only at 12 percent.[xxxiv]
In terms of economic indicators, the report reflected that whereas, in urban areas 27 percent of Muslims lived below poverty incidence; in rural parts of West Bengal the figures shot up to a staggering 33 percent for year 2004-05.[xxxv] Finally, the report indicated that Bengali Muslims had to lose a significant portion of their Wakf property because it was not exempted from the state-enacted Thika and Other Tenancies and Lands (Acquisition and Regulations) Act 1981, which annexed such Wakf properties across West Bengal.[xxxvi]
Additionally, political climate in West Bengal during the final term of Left Front rule from 2006-2011 was mostly turbulent with communal sentiments on the rise. It was clear that Left’s long bankable Muslim support was gradually shifting base to the opposition TMC.[xxxvii] An important catalyst to this erosion was the suicide of Rizwanur Rehman in 2007.[xxxviii] Rizwanur, a middle-class Muslim youth was forced to commit suicide by a chain of harassments following his romantic involvement with daughter of a reputed industrialist Ashok Todi.[xxxix] The political affinity of the Todis with then ruling Left Front marred the entire investigation with severe loopholes.[xl] The stories of this unholy nexus resulted in growing public sympathy towards victim’s family, clearly worked against Left Front primarily on two counts of class and communal struggle.[xli] Finally, impact of the land acquisition policies of Left Front between years 2009-11 was largely disregarded by peasants, particularly in the Muslim-majority village of Nandigram.[xlii] Such neo-liberalist attitude by the Left government reflected critical loss of class their character and ideological degeneration, which resulted in steady loss of support from the Muslim voters leading to eventual relinquish of power in 2011.[xliii]
Therefore, we can ascertain some interesting traits about the trend of electoral participation of Muslim community in West Bengal. Firstly it is clear that although the religious denominator is an important factor for Muslims to vote it is not the sole determinant. This is established from the fact that despite participations of Muslim League and other Islamic political parties in different assembly elections, Muslims in West Bengal have traditionally supported a prominent secular political party such as INC, Left Front and TMC. Focus on socio-economic denominators rather plays a determining role to influence decisions the Bengali Muslim voters. For example, despite being ideologically secular and pro-poor, the three-decade old rule of Left Front government had to suffer a heavy loss in 2011, mainly because of its precarious performance on socio-economic advancements of the Muslim community in West Bengal.[xliv]
In this backdrop, we will now critically analyse results of the 2021 assembly elections in West Bengal which witnessed an overwhelming victory for incumbent TMC. Thereby we will ascertain the determinant socio-cultural and economic aspects that worked in favour of TMC with regards to its Muslim vote shares. It is noteworthy that Mamata Banerjee-led TMC had to encounter a major roadblock in its road to incumbency, with Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) emerging as the other major contender in West Bengal assembly elections 2021.[xlv] Needless to say that there was perception of a strong ‘Hindutva’ sentiment within the state inclining towards BJP, similar to during the national elections in 2014.[xlvi]
III. UNDERSTANDING THE PULSE OF MUSLIM VOTERS IN 2021 WEST BENGAL ASSEMBLY ELECTIONS
The 30 percent Muslim votes in West Bengal are often regarded as a consolidated ‘insurance policy’ for any political party to come to power.[xlvii] Electoral history of the state has shown that the most successful parties have traditionally enjoyed loyalty of the Muslim voters.[xlviii] However, political analysts have repeatedly questioned the very nature of this consolidation as to whether only a religious thread can hold the Muslim votes intact.[xlix] Our discussion so far has reflected that religion alone is not the sole determinant for influencing Muslim votes in West Bengal. We have argued that Bengali Muslim voters consider a wide range of socio-economic issues while making their electoral choices.[l] In this section we will analyse these diverse socio-economic and cultural aspects which in our view, have influenced the Bengali Muslims to overwhelmingly elect the incumbent TMC into power in the 2021 assembly elections.
Traditionally, West Bengal assembly polls have been two-party affairs, for example INC-Left Front 1951-2001 and Left Front – TMC 2001-2016. However, the 2021 elections turned out to be a three-way contest on paper. The scenario was particularly significant with regards to allegiance of the Muslim voters. With BJP emerging as a dominant force in West Bengal alongside the incumbent Mamata-led TMC and formation of an alliance between newly-found Indian Secular Front (ISF) led by an influential Muslim cleric with the Left and INC to form the ‘United Front’; Muslim votes were expected to be fragmented.[li] There was already a perceived undercurrent of non-incumbency against TMC, largely fuelled by BJP’s nation-wide right-wing pro-Hindu politics; late entrance of Furfura Sharif’s Abbas Siddiqui led-ISF was believed to have reduced TMC’s chances further.[lii] ISF supposedly had a stronghold in three main Muslim-majority districts in West Bengal namely, Maldah, Murshidabad and South 24 Parghanas.[liii] Interestingly in 2011 and 2016, the Furfura Sharif backed TMC against Left Front, helping Mamata Banerjee to win substantial portion of Muslim votes and come to power.[liv] Thus, BJP supporters were hopeful that Siddiqui could manage to erode the Muslim support away from the ruling party. Such a situation would have been ideal for BJP to form the government in West Bengal.
However, the election results painted an entirely different picture. The results reflected an emphatic victory for the incumbent TMC which won a thumping 213 seats, followed by BJP at 77 while the United Front came third with merely 1 seat.[lv] These results meant that although BJP managed to significantly increase its seat share in West Bengal assembly from mere 6 in year 2016 to 77 in year 2021, the numbers were no way near to expectations. On the other hand TMC galloped to power with similar seat-share, compared to 2016. [lvi] As far as the Muslim votes are concerned, TMC gathered a massive 75 percent vote shares in 2021 which was a significant 5 percent increase of support from Muslim voters compared to year 2016 (70 percent).[lvii] We argue that there are several important factors that have worked in favour of TMC in increasing their popularity among Bengali Muslims in this election.
Firstly, statistics reveal that during its decade-long tenure, TMC has largely delivered upon its promises to Muslim voters of improving their alarming conditions as pointed out by the Sachar Committee.[lviii] For example, under TMC’s rule about 95 percent of West Bengal’s Muslim population has been included in the Other Backward Classes (OBC) category.[lix] This inclusion meant that Bengali Muslims are now eligible for the benefits of 17 percent reservation for OBCs in education.[lx] Owing to this reservation, approximately 650 Muslim candidates from West Bengal appeared for the National Eligibility and Entrance Test (NEET), which is one of India’s premier competitive exams.[lxi] Further, the TMC government has also increased the number of post-matriculation and post-masters scholarship from Rs.1,100 to Rs. 60,000 per year for the Muslim students.[lxii] Similarly, there has been a significant rise in the volume of small commercial loans to Muslim minorities in the last decade.[lxiii] Additionally, there has been a sharp increase in the percentage of Muslims in government jobs in West Bengal from 3.4 percent between years 2006-2011 (during Left Front’s rule), to about 5.73 percent between years 2011-2021 under TMC’s tenure.[lxiv] It is noteworthy that, these pro-Muslim policies of TMC-led government have often been criticised as ‘minority appeasement’ and have come even under scrutiny by the Calcutta High Court.[lxv] Nevertheless, these policies have certainly fortified a sense of belief among the Bengali Muslims in the incumbent TMC government.
Finally, the general anger among Muslims against BJP’s right-wing politics in West Bengal has also fortified their support for TMC.[lxvi] Manifestations of such dissatisfaction were witnessed through a nationwide protest in October 2019 against the proposed Citizenship Amendment Act in October 2019.[lxvii] Further, the controversial ‘Love Jihad’ legislation which is enacted by many BJP-ruled states is also regarded as an aberration by the Muslim community in general.[lxviii] It is widely believed (and rightly so) that both these legislations unfairly jeopardise the Indian Muslim community.[lxix] Therefore, with Mamata’s pre-election promise of not letting the centre to implement either CAA or the ‘Love Jihad’ law seems to have largely motivated Bengali Muslims to vote in her favour.[lxx] Interestingly, post-election statistics have reflected that BJP has also significantly lost support of their Hindu voters than in the national elections of 2019.[lxxi] Experts opine that their communal polarisation strategies have largely backfired in West Bengal, leading to non-consolidation of Hindu votes.[lxxii] Finally, the United Front was rather seen as an insignificant force against ‘saffronisation’ of West Bengal, therefore, majority of the Left and INC supporters from the Muslim dominated regions have also rallied behind TMC in 2021.
Having an influence over 70-80 assembly seats out of 294, Muslims do play a significant role in determining the outcome of any elections in West Bengal. However analysis of the 2021 assembly election results has ratified that religion is not the only determinant factor to influence electoral choices of the Muslim voters. Indeed, there are several issues of socio-economic development which are taken into consideration by them while casting votes. The prominent factors include: cultural freedom, educational and employment opportunities among others.[lxxiii] Moreover, communal polarisation strategies have traditionally been shunned by voters in West Bengal, irrespective of their religious backgrounds.[lxxiv] Therefore, communal parties such as Muslim League and Jammat-e- Islami during the early 1950s,[lxxv] or BJP in 2021 have repeatedly failed to gain trust of the Bengali voters.[lxxvi] Even the Left Front’s unprecedented tenure collapsed in 2011, primarily because of their uncharacteristic class bias and communal image while handling the Rizwanur Rehman case.[lxxvii] Finally, we are hopeful that the 2021 West Bengal assembly results can set a precedent for other political parties throughout the country to relegate their high-flying communal politics and focus on development issues.
[i] Robin Roy, ‘Why the 30% Muslim Vote Share Is Crucial in Bengal, Explains Robin Roy’ (The Free Press Journal, 10 March 2021) <https://www.freepressjournal.in/analysis/why-the-30-muslim-vote-share-is-crucial-in-bengal-explains-robin-roy> accessed 15 April 2021.
[ii] Nielsen (n 20).
[iii] Ritanjan Das and Zaad Mahmood, ‘Contradictions, Negotiations and Reform: The Story of Left Policy Transition in West Bengal’ (2015) 10 Journal of South Asian Development 199.
[iv] Abhijit Dasgupta, ‘On the Margins: Muslims in West Bengal’ (2009) 44 Economic and Political Weekly 91.
[v] Nielsen (n 20).
[viii] Abhijit Dasgupta (n 25).
[xi] Joya Chatterji, ‘Staying on: Partition and West Bengal’s Muslim Minorities’, The spoils of Partition : Bengal and India, 1947-1967 (Cambridge University Press 2007).
[xiii] ibid p.196.
[xiv] Abhijit Dasgupta (n 25).
[xvii] Chatterji, The Spoils of Partition : Bengal and India, 1947-1967 (n 5).
[xx] Nielsen (n 20).
[xxi] Irfan Engineer, ‘Politics of Muslim Vote Bank’ (1995) 30 Economic and Political Weekly 197.
[xxii] ibid p. 200.
[xxiii] Surinder S. Jodhka, ‘Perceptions and Receptions: Sachar Committee and the Secular Left’ (2007) 42 Economic and Political Weekly 2996.
[xxiv] Md Zinarul Hoque Biswas, ‘Socio Economic Conditions of Muslims of West Bengal: An Enquiry to Their Social Exclusion’ (2015) 2 International Journal of Humanities & Social Science Studies 259.
[xxv] Md Mainuddin, ‘Social and Economic Conditions of Muslims in West Bengal’ (Dissertaition, Aligarh Muslim University 2008) <https://core.ac.uk/download/pdf/144521229.pdf> accessed 15 April 2021.
[xxvi] Hoque Biswas (n 45).
[xxvii] Dwaipayan Bhattacharyya, ‘Of Control and Factions: The Changing “Party-Society” in Rural West Bengal’ (2009) 44 Economic and Political Weekly 59.
[xxviii] Ritanjan Das, ‘Producing Local Neoliberalism in a Leftist Regime: Neoliberal Governmentality and Populist Transition in West Bengal, India’ (2019) 27 Contemporary South Asia 373.
[xxix] Sharjeel Imam and Saquib Salim, ‘In Bengal, Left Parties’ Secular Ideology, Posturing Has Done Nothing for Development of Muslims.’ (Firstpost, 18 April 2017) <https://www.firstpost.com/india/in-bengal-left-parties-secular-ideology-posturing-has-done-nothing-for-development-of-muslims-3389676.html> accessed 16 April 2021.
[xxxii] Rajinder Sachar, ‘Social, Economic and Educational Status of the Muslim Community of India’ (Prime Minister’s High Level Committee 2006) Survey 850/3/C/05 <http://www.minorityaffairs.gov.in/sites/default/files/sachar_comm.pdf> accessed 16 April 2021, p. 290.
[xxxiii] Hoque Biswas (n 45).
[xxxv] Sachar (n 55) p. 159, 160.
[xxxvi] Imam and Salim (n 50).
[xxxvii] Suhit Sen, ‘The Left Rout: Patterns and Prospects’ (2011) 46 Economic and Political Weekly 14.
[xxxviii] Nielsen (n 20).
[xl] Rajashri Dasgupta, ‘Why Did Rizwanur Rehman Have to Die?’ (2007) 42 Economic and Political Weekly 4213.
[xli] Nielsen (n 20).
[xlii] Tanika Sarkar and Sumit Chowdhury, ‘The Meaning of Nandigram: Corporate Land Invasion, People’s Power, and the Left in India’ (2009) 2009 Focaal 73.
[xliv] Imam and Salim (n 50).
[xlv] Dwaipayan Bhattacharyya, ‘Whither West Bengal?’ (2021) 56 Economic and Political Weekly Onine.
[xlvi] Rajeev Ranjan Kumar and Muhannad Rizwan, ‘Hindutva Philosophy Reinforcement by the RSS/BJP against Minorities and the Economic Performance of Narenda Modi’s Government in India’ (2021) 28 International Journal on Minority and Group Rights 351.
[xlvii] Siddhartha Talya, ‘The Significance of the Muslim Vote in West Bengal’ Times Now (Kolkata, 4 March 2021) <https://www.timesnownews.com/columns/article/the-significance-of-the-muslim-vote-in-west-bengal/727600> accessed 17 April 2021.
[xlix] M Reyaz, ‘Why AIMIM Will Not Succeed in West Bengal Election’ (NewsClick, 3 December 2020) <https://www.newsclick.in/why-AIMIM-not-succeed-west-bengal-election> accessed 17 April 2021.
[l] Nielsen (n 20).
[li] Soumya Das, ‘Will Mamata Be Able to Retain Her Muslim Vote Base with ISF, AIMIM in Fray?’ Deccan Herald (Kolkata, 14 May 2021) <https://www.deccanherald.com/election/west-bengal/will-mamata-be-able-to-retain-her-muslim-vote-base-with-isf-aimim-in-fray-974197.html> accessed 17 April 2021.
[liii] Snigdhendu Bhattacharya, ‘Abbas Siddiqui Factor Turns TMC Heartland of South 24-Parganas Into a Triangular Battle’ (The Wire, 30 March 2021) <https://thewire.in/politics/west-bengal-elections-south-24-parganas-abbas-siddiqui-tmc-bjp> accessed 17 April 2021.
[liv] Madhuparna Das, ‘Didi or Family? Furfura Sharif Cleric’s Family Divided over Whom to Back in Battle for Bengal’ (ThePrint, 5 April 2021) <https://theprint.in/india/didi-or-family-furfura-sharif-clerics-family-divided-over-whom-to-back-in-battle-for-bengal/633681/> accessed 17 April 2021.
[lv] ‘General Election to Vidhan Sabha Trentds & Result MAY-2021’ (Election Commission of India) <https://results.eci.gov.in/Result2021/partywiseresult-S25.htm?st=S25> accessed 17 May 2021.
[lvii] Shreyas Sardesai, ‘West Bengal Assembly Elections | Subaltern Hindutva on the Wane?’ The Hindu (6 May 2021) <https://www.thehindu.com/elections/west-bengal-assembly/csds-lokniti-survey-finds-whether-subaltern-hindutva-is-on-the-wane/article34494129.ece> accessed 17 May 2021.
[lviii] Snigdhendu Bhattacharya, ‘Missing in Mamata’s Report Card on Achievements: Minority Development’ (The Wire, 7 December 2020) <https://thewire.in/politics/mamata-banerjee-minority-development-tmc-bjp-polarisation-elections> accessed 17 April 2021.
[lix] Ishan Roy Chowdhury, ‘In Bengal, Why Is OBC Politics “Unheard Of”? Here’s the Real Story’ (TheQuint, 4 February 2021) <https://www.thequint.com/voices/opinion/bengal-elections-bjp-trinamool-mamata-banerjee-caste-vote-bank-politics-obc-muslims-hindus> accessed 17 April 2021.
[lx] Correspondent, ‘17% Quota for OBC Students in West Bengal’ The Hindu (Kolkata:, 24 December 2010) <https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/17-quota-for-OBC-students-in-West-Bengal/article15605641.ece> accessed 17 April 2021.
[lxi] Bhattacharya, ‘Missing in Mamata’s Report Card on Achievements’ (n 79).
[lxiv] Correspondent, ‘Bengal Records More Muslims in Govt. Jobs’ The Hindu (Kolkata:, 8 November 2016) <https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/kolkata/Bengal-records-more-Muslims-in-govt.-jobs/article16439342.ece> accessed 17 April 2021.
[lxv] Rajat Roy (n 19).
[lxvi] Riccardo Jaede, ‘The Agonistic Struggle between Trinamool Congress and a Non-Partisan Protest Alliance: West Bengal and Its Anti-CAA/NRC Movement’ (2020) 24 South Asia Multidisciplinary Academic Journal 12.
[lxviii] David James Strohl, ‘Love Jihad in India’s Moral Imaginaries: Religion, Kinship, and Citizenship in Late Liberalism’ (2019) 27 Contemporary South Asia 27.
[lxix] Aastha Tyagi and Atreyee Sen, ‘Love-Jihad (Muslim Sexual Seduction) and Ched-Chad (Sexual Harassment): Hindu Nationalist Discourses and the Ideal/Deviant Urban Citizen in India’ (2020) 27 Gender, Place and Culture 104.
[lxx] Manogya Loiwal, ‘Mamata Banerjee’s Bengal Becomes 4th State to Pass Anti-CAA Resolution’ India Today (Kolkata, 27 January 2020) <https://www.indiatoday.in/india/story/anti-caa-resolution-west-bengal-mamata-banerjee-1640574-2020-01-27> accessed 17 April 2021.
[lxxi] Sardesai (n 78).
[lxxiii] Subhanil Chowdhury & Saswata Ghosh, ‘Condition of Muslims in West Bengal: A Reality Check’ (Frontline) <https://frontline.thehindu.com/the-nation/condition-of-muslims-in-west-bengal-a-reality-check-ahead-of-west-bengal-assembly-elections-2021/article33887344.ece> accessed 17 May 2021.
[lxxiv] Abhijit Dasgupta (n 25).
[lxxvi] ‘Poll Pundit Podcast: BJP’s Polarisation Narrative Didn’t Work in West Bengal, Find out Why’ <https://www.cnbctv18.com/politics/poll-pundit-podcast-bjps-polarisation-narrative-didnt-work-in-west-bengal-find-out-why-9170421.htm> accessed 17 May 2021.
[lxxvii] Rajashri Dasgupta (n 61).