Independent Scheduled Caste Party

Independent Scheduled Caste Party a political and a parliamentary group formed in 1938 by the scheduled caste members elected to the Bengal Legislative Assembly as independent candidates in the 1937 general elections. In the election of January 1937 the scheduled castes contested in both the 'Reserved' and 'General' constituencies for the first time. The majority of the Reserved seats were captured by non-congress candidates, while in a General seat a scheduled caste candidate recorded a victory over a caste Hindu Congress nominee, and a Congressite scheduled caste candidate captured a general seat. In this election several prominent scheduled caste politicians, like Hem Chandra Naskar won as independent candidates. In the final election tally, of the 32 representatives of the scheduled castes elected to the Bengal Legislative Assembly 23 were Independents, 7 Congressites and 2 belonged to the hindu mahasabha. Finally, in 1938, the Scheduled Caste members of the Bengal Legislative Assembly formed the Independent Scheduled Caste Party with Hem Chandra Naskar as its President and jogendranath mandal as the Secretary.

The Party, since its inception, maintained close links with Ambedkar's Scheduled Caste Movement and, at the sametime, political connections with the muslim league in Bengal. In fact, after the fall of the Second ak fazlul huq Cabinet, Independent Scheduled Caste Legislators supported the Nazimuddin Ministry. Three of them, Jogendranath Mandal, Premhari Barman and Pulinbehari Mullick were offered cabinet portfolios. Ultimately when the Bengal Provincial Scheduled Castes Federation came into existence in 1943, the majority of the members of the Independent Scheduled Caste Party decided to join it. [Raj Sekhar Basu]

Bibliography Sekhar Bandyopadhyay, Caste, Politics and the Raj: Bengal 1872-1937, Calcutta, 1990; Masayuki Usuda, 'Pushed towards the Partition: Jogendranath Mandal and the Constrained Namasudra Movement', H Kotani (ed), 'Caste System, Untouchability and the Depressed', Japanese Studies on South Asia, 1, Delhi, 1997.