Left is Left Out in West Bengal


DEORIA – UTTAR PRADESH – INDIA                   JUNE 03 , 2011                    02. 00 P. M.

On May 13 , 2011 when I was following election results of Assam , West Bengal , Tamil Nadu , Kerala and Puducherry , I was particularly curious to know West Bengal results. Tamil Nadu and Kerala have habit of voting against the incumbents and bringing in the opposition in every election. So I was pretty sure about the outcome. Though I was curious to know the fate of Assam and Union Territory of Puducherry also ,  but West Bengal was unique.

States Where Assembly elections were Held in 2011

States Where Assembly elections were Held in 2011

Communists were ruling West Bengal since 1977  and it was an uphill task for Trinamool Congress or any other party or dispensation to dislodge them. monolithic organization of Communists was invincible and impregnable for 34 years and even Mamata Banerjee failed several times to dislodge them.World’s first ever democratically elected Communist government was headed by E. M. Shankaran Namboodiripad in Kerala in 1957. It was dismissed in 1959 by Congress in autocratic way. So Communist Party of India [ CPI ] has this unique and dubious distinction of being the first democratically elected Communist government of the world and the first one too , to get dismissed by centre under article 356 of the constitution.

In 1967 , in the days of governments of Samyukta Vidhayak Dal [ SVD ] , a SVD government was formed in West Bengal with Communist Party of India [ CPI ]  as junior partner. Ajoy Mukherjee of Bangla Congress was the Chief Minister and CPI leader Jyoti Basu was his deputy. This one was the first ever non-Congress government of the state. E. M. Shankaran Namboodiripad again became the Chief Minister of Kerala during that period. This SVD government of West Bengal was short-lived as it was again dismissed by Congress government of centre. Left lost the 1972 assembly election, which was alleged to be heavily rigged by Congress. Siddharth Shankar Ray formed the illegal , immoral and last government of the Indian National Congress. Then came infamous emergency. In the 1977 election Congress lost power in centre as well as in West Bengal and many other northern states. Communist Party of India – Marxist [ CPI – M ] , an off-shoot of old Communist Party of India [ CPI ] came to power. It , along with its allies : CPI , All India Forward Bloc [ AIFB ] and Revolutionary Socialist Party [ RSP ] formed Left Front and ruled West Bengal since then. Jyoti Basu began his 23 – year-long stint as Chief Minister of West Bengal. He left office in 2000 and Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee took from him and ruled till now.

Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee

Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee

Apart from the rise and fall of Left Front, this 2011 election also signifies struggle and dogged fight of Mamata Banerjee. Born on January 05 , 1955 , she is M. A. in Islamic History from Calcutta University. She has a degree in education as well as a law degree. She joined Congress in 1970 and in 1984 became one of India’s youngest parliamentarian ever. She defeated Somnath Chatterjee from Jadavpur , who was considered invincible till then. Same year she became general-secretary of All India Youth Congress. In 1991 she became minister of state HRD in Narsimha Rao government. She quit Congress in 1997 and floated All India Trinamool Congress. In 1999 she joined Atal Bihari Vajpayee led NDA government and became railway minister. Later on she quit NDA government and fought 2001 assembly election with Congress and lost. In the assembly election of 2006 Trinamool was mauled badly. Then came Singur agitation against Tata car factory , which catapulted her to political stardom. Single-handedly she drove Tata out of Singur and for the first time Left Front was forced to backtrack and was compelled to renege the decision. Her struggle paid rich dividends in 2009 Parliament polls and she became railway minister again. In 2010 she won West Bengal civic poll and finally in 2011 trounced Left Front.

On May  20 , 2011 as she was appointed Chief Minister of West Bengal , she became the 11th Chief Minister of West Bengal and the first woman CM of the state and 14th woman CM of India. Only 13 women were Chief Ministers before. Sucheta Kripalani was the first woman Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh and first Indian woman to hold this post. Sucheta Kripalani of Uttar Pradesh was followed by Nandini Satpathy in Odisha, Shashikala Kakodkar in Goa, Syeda Anowara Taimur in Assam, Janaki Ramachandran in Tamil Nadu, J. Jayalalithaa in Tamil Nadu, Mayawati in Uttar Pradesh, Rajinder Kaur Bhattal in Punjab, Rabri Devi in Bihar, Sushma Swaraj in Delhi, Sheila Dikshit in Delhi, Uma Bharti in Madhya Pradesh and Vasundhara Raje in Rajasthan. Now Mamata Banerjee becomes 14th woman Chief Minister in India and the 1st one in West Bengal.

Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee

Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee

It is not an ordinary victory. In my opinion it is beginning of the end of Left Front . Mamta Banerjee rightly called it as a second independence day. This sentiment was echoed throughout West Bengal. Industry was neglected during Left Front rule. Contrary to popular belief, 34 year Left Front  rule had ruined West Bengal. Statistics reflect the real picture. Flight of the industry from the state is a familiar story. West Bengal is a laggard in every aspect. By 2007 – 2008 the share of manufacturing in the state’s net domestic product has fallen to 7.4% compared to 13.6% in neighbouring Odisha. After flight of capital , flight of educated youngsters started and they left in drove. A deplorable policy of doing away of English as medium of education for several years also added to the woes of bright youngsters and degeneration of education began. Plight of education and health were more glaring , though as per popular perception Communists were supposed to have maximum effect on these two fronts. The number of hospital beds per one lakh people in rural Bengal is 3.8 as compared to an all-India average of 17.5 . In education , the drop out rate of students is over 75% compared to an all-India average of 60% . Left Front repeatedly won the election on the promise of land reforms. Operation Barga was quite successful and paid them rich dividends. But to attract industry , Left Front alienated same vote bank of theirs by planning industrial projects on agricultural lands and that too without working out adequate compensation. Singur and Nandigram became their nemisis. Mamata gained ground by championing their cause.

Election Symbol of Trinamool Congress

Election Symbol of Trinamool Congress

On the day of counting , when results were pouring in and victory of Mamata Banerjee became almost certain , I was reminded of two incidents of her life. On August 16 , 1990 she was brutally assaulted by Lalu Alam, a goon supported by CPI – M. She suffered severe head injuries but was saved. Again in 1992, when trying to meet Jyoti Basu , the then Chief Minister, she was dragged by the hair along the corridors of Writers’ Building and was taken to Lalbazar. She returned to Writers’ Building only after winning the elections. Life has come to full circle for her. Maa , Maati , Maanush have won and with this victory ends the dream of Communists to paint India red.

A dream never fulfilled

A dream never fulfilled

VIDUR

DEORIA – UTTAR PRADESH  – INDIA

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