Rebellion of Bauris and Bagdis: Why CM Mamata is Reaching Out to Bengal Tribals with Flurry of Welfare Schemes
File photo of West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee.
Unknown to many, they were the first to revolt against the exploitative land revenue policies of the British rulers from 1771 to 1809. It is known as the Chuar rebellion in West Bengal. In the present-day context, not many know that they have a sizable number of voters which can be a decisive factor in nearly 36 assembly seats in the state.
With a nearly 19 per cent vote share, the Bauri and Bagdi (Barga Kshatriyas) are suddenly in the limelight ahead of the 2021 assembly polls as chief minister Mamata Banerjee has announced several schemes and sops for their welfare including a university in the name of Gobardhan Dikpati – a Bauri fighter who was hanged by the British during the Chuar rebellion.
The CM has also announced community centres, cultural boards, health centres, ambulances, schools, high schools, skill-development plans, pension for the elderly, and research academies exclusively for these community people who are mainly settled in Burdwan, West Midnapore, Bankura, Hooghly, Birbhum, Howrah districts and are largely involved in farming, fisheries, daily wage labour, palanquin bearing, masonry, etc.
“In my house, I am taking care of a Bauri community girl. She is my right hand. In the past also, I have taken care of Bauri girls and bear all the expenses till their marriages. I believe in community empowerment and my government will continue to work for the upliftment of such community people,” Mamata said while interacting with the Bauri people at the state secretariat on November 4, 2020.
She said, “Apart from various developmental plans, we already have soft-loan facilities of up to Rs 10 lakh for those who want to pursue higher education in India and Rs 20 lakh for those who want to pursue the same abroad.”
The CM has asked the chief secretary, and the MSME, finance, and urban development departments to expedite the projects which she announced for the Bauris and Bagdis in the state.
Over the years, the Bauris' constant contact and their intermingling with other castes resulted in the loss of their tribal identity but their relevance in Bengal's politics was handled well by the Left during the 34 years of rule in the state.
Later the Trinamool Congress came to power in 2011 and the Bauris and Bagdis shifted their allegiance towards "Ma, Mati, Manush". But in recent years the ruling TMC has started feeling the heat after reports of resentment among them began pouring in through the ‘Didi Ke Bolo’ grievance platform launched by the administration.
To address the discord, many observers feel that Mamata is eager to bring them back to the TMC camp to contain the spread of the saffron mood in Bengal.