Political History of West Bengal

From the very beginning of Independence till 1967 was governed by Congress Party in West Bengal. In between this time span it was led by Dr. B.C. Roy, a visionary and pioneer leader who took correct steps to modernize the economy. But food crisis was a feature of that time as was refugees coming from the then East Pakistan in the wake of partition. Overall till then Bengal was one of the leading states of India.

Then came the rising of Marxist parties in West Bengal based on the issue of food crisis and of refugees. After election of 1967, a coalition government was formed with Bangla congress, a breakaway faction of Congress in West Bengal and Marxist bloc. It started land reform i.e. setting ceilings on land holding and distributing ceiling above land to landless labours. This was also the very much start of the Naxal movement which became violent and made its effect on economy of West Bengal.On the industry front, unchecked trade unionism also raised its heads creating a sense of turmoil everywhere. Then in 1972, congress came back on the back of widespread rigged election causing much anger among general people. The west Bengal government led by Siddhartha Shankar Ray was pro development but lacked people’s confidence. It also crushed naxal movement brutally; through state machinery causing many bright youngsters lose their lives. In 177 Congress was routed to pave way for left front government led by Jyoti Basu in West Bengal.They carried on land reforms vigorously gaining strong rural base to cement their hold on power for 34 years continuously.

But they failed to check trade unionism causing flight of capital. Also they lacked on other reforms like creating infrastructure, rural roads to take advantage of increased agricultural production resulting from land reforms. They also decimated every public institution by nominating or imposing their favorite persons through one sided elections or other methods, as its head or governing body. Thus came the fall from grace of Bengal education and health institutions.

Buddhadeb Bhattacharya became CM of West Bengal in 2001 after Basu retired. He tried to reign in unchecked trade unionism but failed to do so. He had some success in courting industries but the controversy surrounding taking of fertile farm land for industry caused erosion in rural support base. This gave the launching pad for Mamata Banerjee to wrest power in 2011 election. She is currently the Chief Minister of West Bengal.

Right now left front is in disarray after election debacle and failed to consolidate as evident from recent polls. BJP in West Bengal is gathering strength in pockets and may emerge as main opponent to TMC led by Ms. Banerjee, in West Bengal.

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