The Adivasi Kurmi Samaj in its committee meeting on Thursday decided to hold a series of rallies and protests against the Centre and the West Bengal government for not fulfilling their long-pending ST status demand and for keeping the Cultural Research Institute (CRI) report on hold since 2018.
In 1913, Kurmis were listed in the ST category as per the Shimla notification. However, they were dropped from the ST list on September 6, 1950, and presently, they are in the OBC (B) category list.
After almost 69 years, Kurmis – having nearly 40 percent voters are still fighting with their demands but nothing has been done, despite submitting memorandums to the Union Home Ministry in the past.
“Today we had our state committee meeting and we have decided to raise our long pending demands of ST status, development in Jangalmahal, employment to the Kurmi samaj youths and immediate release of Cultural Research Institute (CRI) report which is kept on for two years,” Ajit Mahato, one of the influential leaders of Adivasi Kurmi Samaj said.
In the context of upcoming state assembly polls, he added “we are a non-political body and we all want our demands to be fulfilled. We will express our gratitude to those (political parties) who will listen to our grievances.”
In 1953, the Second Conference for Tribes and Tribal (Scheduled) Areas was held in Lohardaga, following which a resolution was adopted to set up Tribal Research Institutes in all the states of the country by the Centre. Based on this Policy, the CRI was set up in West Bengal in 1955.
The main objective of the CRI was to look into the needs of the Scheduled Tribes of the state. The CRI is responsible for undertaking research on tribal life and its different facets including their socio-cultural, ethnographic, economic aspects and educational status. Besides helping them by preserving and promoting their heritage, attempts to raise their economic and educational standards is also a key target of the CRI.
Kurmi community’s support would be very crucial for any political party in West Bengal as out of nearly 42 assembly seats in Jangalmahal – Kurmi dominates in nearly 16 seats.
In all the rallies, the Kurmi Samaj leaders have decided to highlight Jharkhand poll results in 2019 and the consequences for ignoring Tribal issues. In the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, Kurmis took the side of BJP with a hope to get their issue resolved and the saffron brigade’s vote share had increased remarkably from 19 per cent (approx) in 2014 to nearly 41 per cent in 2019.
In 2014 Assembly polls, Kurmis extended their full support to Mamata Banarjee which helped her to defeat the Left Front candidate after 42 years in Jhargram. The CPI-M ruled Jhargram from 1977 to 2014.
Not the least, Kurmis showed their might in the 2018 Panchayat election, when the ruling TMC suffered a massive jolt in Jhargram, Purulia and Bankura after they decided to go with BJP.