30 years of Left rule in West Bengal

Updated: May 12, 2011 02:02 IST

If opinion polls are anything to go by, India's political history will once again be at the threshold of a revolutionary change. The CPM-led Left Front Government that has been ruling West Bengal undefeated since 1977 is facing the worst crisis in its 33 years of hegemonic rule.

30 years of Left rule in West Bengal
Friday the 13 proved unlucky for the Left. And lucky for a woman who formed her own party 13 years ago with the one-point agenda to rid Bengal of Left rule. After 34 years, the Communists have been ousted in West Bengal.

Here's a look at the journey of the CPI-M and allies in West Bengal, often called the last true bastion of Communism. The last bastion just crumbled.
30 years of Left rule in West Bengal
The CPI(M)-led Left Front came to power in 1977 under the charismatic leadership of Jyoti Basu. Since then, the party has been synonymous to West Bengal politics, with people having given it massive mandates for successive terms.
30 years of Left rule in West Bengal
The Left built its fort on the unwavering support it generated through major agrarian reforms starting late 70s. Rural households in the state benefited massively from the land reforms, earning a life-long loyalty of the farmers that kept the Leftists in power for so long.
30 years of Left rule in West Bengal
Even in 1960, West Bengal had the highest per capita GDP of any state in India.

The Left Front began a land reform program, handing plots to over a million small farmers. It established self-governing village councils called panchayats, a system adopted across India.
30 years of Left rule in West Bengal
The economic record of West Bengal under the Left Front, however, was not exactly glorious. A high burden of debt and what Jyoti Basu termed as 'Step Motherly Treatment' by the Centre left little resources with the state government. West Bengal urgently needed industrial development to adjust its agricultural-skewed economy.
30 years of Left rule in West Bengal
Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee took over from Jyoti Basu as Chief Minister in 2000. There was much praise for Buddhadeb's vision of a modern, industrial Bengal and the state in 2003 saw a record industrial investment and the release of an IT policy to invite Infotech firms.
30 years of Left rule in West Bengal
Left parties won an unprecedented 62 seats in the 2004 Lok Sabha elections. They offered outside support to the Manmohan Singh-led UPA government but pulled out in 2008 over the India-US Nuclear deal.
30 years of Left rule in West Bengal
Under the 123 Agreement, also known as the Indo-US Civil Nuclear deal, India agreed to separate its civil and military nuclear facilities and place all its civil nuclear facilities under IAEA safeguards. In exchange, the United States agreed to work toward full civil nuclear cooperation with India.
30 years of Left rule in West Bengal
In 2006, Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee returned to power in West Bengal, riding on a landslide victory for his party and the Left Front for his second full term as the Chief Minister.
30 years of Left rule in West Bengal
Industrialists were wooed with the promise of a "positive investment environment in West Bengal". Among those who considered Bengal as an investment option was Tata Motors, which was to set up the small car factory in Singur.
30 years of Left rule in West Bengal
The glory of the Left began fading away after Singur in 2006, when the West Bengal government resorted to imposing Section 144 to prevent protests against the forceful appropriation of land for the Tata factory.
30 years of Left rule in West Bengal
Singur gave Mamata Banerjee the entry point she had been waiting for. She spearheaded protests by farmers against the creation of a Special Economic Zone that would allow big industry into West Bengal, effectively usurping farmland and livelihoods.

In 2006, she headed a rally against the plant-in-making at Singur. Once a small-time campaigner, Banerjee's popularity soared after she was beaten up while leading one such protest. The Tatas bowed out of Bengal in 2008.
30 years of Left rule in West Bengal
West Bengal lost a factory and the prospect of much needed jobs.
30 years of Left rule in West Bengal
Banerjee's simple white sari, rubber flip-flops and angry denunciations made her an instant friend of the poor, who throng to her rallies in colourful campaign caps and affectionately refer to her as "Didi".
30 years of Left rule in West Bengal
But Singur wasn't the only setback for the Left. The state government was also forced to shelve plans for a chemical hub in Nandigram after dozens of villagers died in protests.

It was the events in Nandigram, in March 2007, which made things worse for Buddhadeb. A government sanctioned siege of Nandigram, one of the two flashpoints of the anti-SEZ protests, left 14 villagers dead and at least 70 others injured. For the first time in decades, supporters of the Left, turned against Buddhadeb.
30 years of Left rule in West Bengal
The first sign was losing the Panchayat elections in those hotspots. And it's not just West Bengal, the party was left out in its other stronghold, Kerala as well.
30 years of Left rule in West Bengal
Huge losses in both their bastions meant a significantly reduced role for the Left on the national stage.
30 years of Left rule in West Bengal
Mamata won 19 parliamentary seats in the 2009 general election, to become the biggest party in Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's coalition government.
30 years of Left rule in West Bengal
By the time matters deteriorated in Lalgarh, West Bengal was seething. In June 2009, Indian security forces launched Operation Lalgarh against the Maoists in West Medinipur.
30 years of Left rule in West Bengal
On June 18, joint security forces began their march to Lalgarh, an area from where the police had been virtually driven out by the Maoist backed People's Committee against Police Atrocities (PCPA).
30 years of Left rule in West Bengal
And this was not the only jolt to the Left Front. In January 2010, CPM patriarch Jyoti Basu passed away in Kolkata at the age of 95 due to a chest infection.
30 years of Left rule in West Bengal
Basu's rise within the CPI-M was meteoric. He won his first election in 1946 to the Bengal Legislative Assembly, contesting the Railway constituency.
30 years of Left rule in West Bengal
He was deputy chief minister in 1967 and 1969 and, on June 21, 1977, when the Left swept the polls in West Bengal, sworn in as chief minister.
30 years of Left rule in West Bengal
By 1996, when he became chief minister for the fifth time, Basu had acquired national stature. During this year, when the United Front was all set to form the Union government, Basu was asked to be prime minister. However, the CPI(M) Politburo decided not to participate in the government.
30 years of Left rule in West Bengal
Bowing to his party's decision, Basu declined the offer but later called it a historic blunder. Instead H D Deve Gowda from the Janata Dal became the prime minister.
30 years of Left rule in West Bengal
Bowing to his party's decision, Basu declined the offer but later called it a historic blunder. Instead H D Deve Gowda from the Janata Dal became the prime minister.
30 years of Left rule in West Bengal
Citing health reasons, Basu quit as chief minister in November 2000 but remained politically active as CPI-M Politburo member. Communists never retire, he said, and till the end, showed that he meant that in letter and spirit.
30 years of Left rule in West Bengal
One of Jyoti Basu's last public appearances was on 8th July 2009, his 95th birthday. His birthday wish -- that the Left's 30 year reign in West Bengal would remain uninterrupted. That dream has been killed by a Mamata shaped nail in the Left's political coffin

................................ Advertisement ................................

................................ Advertisement ................................

Listen to the latest songs, only on JioSaavn.com