Politics of West Bengal

Politics in West Bengal is dominated by the following major political parties: the All India Trinamool Congress, the Communist Party of India (Marxist), the Bharatiya Janata Party, and the Indian National Congress. For many decades, the state underwent gruesome and terrible political violence.[1] Since the 2011 West Bengal Legislative Assembly election, it has been governed by the Trinamool Congress party. Previously, it was ruled by Left Front led by the Communist Party of India (Marxist) for over three decades.

Government edit

West Bengal is governed through a parliamentary system of representative democracy, a feature the state shares with other Indian states. Universal suffrage is granted to residents. There are two branches of government. The legislature, the West Bengal Legislative Assembly, consists of elected members and special office bearers such as the Speaker and Deputy Speaker, who are elected by the members. Assembly meetings are presided over by the Speaker or the Deputy Speaker in the Speaker's absence. The judiciary is composed of the Calcutta High Court and a system of lower courts. Executive authority is vested in the Council of Ministers headed by the Chief Minister although the titular head of government is the Governor. The Governor is the head of state appointed by the President of India. The leader of the party or coalition with a majority in the Legislative Assembly is appointed as the Chief Minister by the Governor, and the Council of Ministers are appointed by the Governor on the advice of the Chief Minister. The Council of Ministers reports to the Legislative Assembly. The Assembly is unicameral with 295 Members of the Legislative Assembly, or MLAs,[2] including one nominated from the Anglo-Indian community. Terms of office run for five years, unless the Assembly is dissolved prior to the completion of the term. Auxiliary authorities known as panchayats, for which local body elections are regularly held, govern local affairs. The state contributes 42 seats to the Lok Sabha[3] and 16 seats to the Rajya Sabha of the Indian Parliament.[4]

History edit

The area's early history featured a succession of Indian empires, internal squabbling, and a tussle between Hinduism and Buddhism for dominance. Ancient Bengal was the site of several major Janapadas (kingdoms), while the earliest cities date back to the Vedic period. The region was part of several ancient pan-Indian empires, including the Mauryans and Guptas. It was also a bastion of regional kingdoms. The citadel of Gauda served as the capital of the Gauda Kingdom, the Buddhist Pala Empire (eighth to 11th century) and Hindu Sena Empire (11th–12th century). From the 13th century onward, the region was ruled by several sultans, powerful Hindu states, and Baro-Bhuyan landlords, until the beginning of British rule in the 18th century. The British East India Company cemented their hold on the region following the Battle of Plassey in 1757, and Calcutta served for many years as the capital of British India. The early and prolonged exposure to British administration resulted in an expansion of Western education, culminating in developments in science, institutional education, and social reforms in the region, including what became known as the Bengali Renaissance. A hotbed of the Indian independence movement through the early 20th century, Bengal was divided during India's independence in 1947 along religious lines into two separate entities: West Bengal, a state of India, and East Bengal, a province of Pakistan which later became independent Bangladesh.

Indian National Congress rule(1947–1962) edit

Princely state merge with West Bengal edit

In 1950, the Princely State of Koch Bihar merged with West Bengal after King Jagaddipendra Narayan had signed the Instrument of Accession with India.[5] In 1955, the former French enclave of Chandannagar, which had passed into Indian control after 1950, was integrated into West Bengal. Portions (the then Manbhum) of Bihar were subsequently merged with West Bengal and now this region serves as the district of Purulia[citation needed]

During Bidhan Chandra Roy's Chief Minister-ship a number of manufacturing industries were set up in the state. He had a dream of developing West Bengal into one of the greatest regions of India. Bidhan Roy is often considered 'The Maker of Modern West Bengal' due to his key role in the founding of several institutions and five eminent cities in the state: Durgapur, Kalyani, Bidhannagar, Ashokenagar and Habra. Even after being the Chief Minister of West Bengal, Dr. B. C. Roy used to treat patients and never gave up his profession of a doctor. In 1954, a massive food crisis overtook the state.

United Front (1967–1969) edit

After the state legislative elections held in 1967, the CPI(M) was the main force behind the United Front government formed. The post of Chief Minister was given to Ajoy Mukherjee of the Bangla Congress.[citation needed]

Naxalbari uprising edit

In 1967 a peasant uprising broke out in Naxalbari, in northern West Bengal. The insurgency was led by hardline district-level CPI(M) leaders Charu Majumdar and Kanu Sanyal. The Naxalbari movement was violently repressed by the West Bengal government. During the 1970s and 1980s, severe power shortages, strikes and a violent Marxist-Naxalite movement damaged much of the state's infrastructure, leading to a period of economic stagnation.

The Bangladesh Liberation War of 1971 resulted in the influx of millions of refugees to West Bengal, causing significant strains on its infrastructure.[6] The government was credited for handling the refugee crisis fairly well by the International media. The 1974 smallpox epidemic killed thousands of people. West Bengal politics underwent a major change when the Left Front won the 1977 assembly election, defeating the incumbent Indian National Congress. The Left Front, led by Communist Party of India (Marxist), had governed for the state for the subsequent three and a half decades.[7]

1969 Assembly election edit

Fresh elections were held in West Bengal in 1969. CPI(M) emerged as the largest party in the West Bengal legislative assembly.[8] But with the active support of CPI and the Bangla Congress, Ajoy Mukherjee was returned as Chief Minister of the state. Mukherjee resigned on March 16, 1970 and the state was put under President's Rule.

Indian National Congress rule II (1972–1977) edit

Indian National Congress won the 1972 assembly election, and its leader Siddhartha Shankar Ray became the chief minister. He wanted to erase every single Naxal from West Bengal but his and his government's actions backfired, creating state-wide outrage against him and the then West Bengal Government. During this period, the then Prime Minister of India, Indira Gandhi proclaimed nationwide Emergency in 1975.

This period was marked by large scale violence as the police force battled with the Naxalites in the state of West Bengal.

Left Front rule (1977–2011) edit

In the 1977 West Bengal Legislative Assembly election, the Left Front, headed by Communist Party of India (Marxist), won 231 seats thereby gaining a majority, reducing the Indian National Congress to a mere 20 seats. The first Left Front government was established with Jyoti Basu as the Chief Minister. The state saw rapid developments in this period, with the Land Reforms and the Panchayat System being two of the many notable ones. In this time, the state had become one of the leaders in agricultural output, being the leading producer of rice and the second leading producer of potatoes.

The Naxalite movement was crushed during this time.

Major incidents edit

1979 Marichjhanpi Massacre edit

The massacre in Marichjhanpi, which took place under CPI(M) rule in Bengal between January 26 and May 16, 1979, relates to the eviction of refugees from the reserved island of Marichjhanpi, Sunderbans, who had fled from East Pakistan thereby leading to the death of a sizable population among them.[9]

Out of the 14,388 families who deserted [for West Bengal], 10,260 families returned to their previous places … and the remaining 4,128 families perished in transit, died of starvation, exhaustion, and many were killed in Kashipur, Kumirmari, and Marichjhapi by police firings (Biswas 1982, 19).[10][11]

After leading the Left Front government for consecutive five terms, Jyoti Basu retired from active politics and Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee was appointed as his successor. In 2000, the Left Front came back to the power with Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee again assuming the office of the Chief Minister.[9]

The state's economic recovery gathered momentum after economic reforms in India were introduced in the early 1990s by the central government, aided by election of a new reformist Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee in 2000. About during 2007, armed activists, and Maoists have been organizing terrorist attacks in some parts of the state,[12][13] while clashes with the administration have taken place at several sensitive places on the issue of industrial land acquisition.[14][15]

Singur Tata Nano controversy edit

The Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee government wanted to set up a Tata Nano factory in Singur, Hooghly.Tata Motors started constructing a factory to manufacture a car, Tata Nano which was estimated to cost $2,500. The small cars were scheduled to roll out of the factory by 2008. Singur was chosen by the Tata Motors among six sites offered by the West Bengal state government. The project faced massive opposition from displaced farmers. The unwilling farmers were given political support by West Bengal's then-opposition leader Mamata Banerjee. Banerjee's "Save Farmland" movement was supported by civil rights and human rights groups, legal bodies, and social activists like Medha Patkar, Anuradha Talwar, Arundhati Roy and Magsaysay and Jnanpith Award-winning author Mahasweta Devi. Leftist activists also shared the platform with Banerjee's Trinamool Congress. The Tatas finally decided to move out of Singur on 3 October 2008. On 7 October 2008, the Tatas announced that they would be setting up the Tata Nano plant in Sanand in Gujarat after Ratan Tata received a call from the then Chief Minister of Gujarat, Narendra Modi.

Nandigram violence edit

The Nandigram violence was an incident in Nandigram, West Bengal where, under the orders of the Left Front government, more than 4,000 heavily armed police stormed the Nandigram area with the aim of stamping out protests against the West Bengal government's plans to expropriate 10,000 acres (40 km2) of land for a Special Economic Zone (SEZ) to be developed by the Indonesian-based Salim Group. The area of Nandigram had turned into an internal-security threat for the country.[16] The Trinamool Congress, collaborating with the Maoists, had isolated the entire area from the rest of the country, by cutting up all the roads and blocking them by tree trunks. Weapons were being collected and stored for an armed rebellion.[17] The villagers were brainwashed against the Government and the progressive scheme. However, the shootings, in recent developments have proved to be a conspiracy of the TMC and Maoists alike. Indeed the police had to resort to firing when the armed mob refused to disperse even after much persuasion and tear gassing and started attacking the police. The then Chief Minister, Buddhadeb Bhattacharya was awarded a clean-chit for non-involvement in the Nandigram violence by the CBI.[18] The police shot 13 villagers dead and one died from a very suspicious knife-attack, thus sparking controversies whether the police were, in the least, the ones to fire. At least 30 police officers were injured in the incident.

The SEZ controversy started when the government of West Bengal decided that the Salim Group of Indonesia[19][20][21] would set up a chemical hub under the SEZ policy at Nandigram, a rural area in the district of Purba Medinipur. The villagers took over the administration of the area and all the roads to the villages were cut off.

All India Trinamool Congress rule (2011–present) edit

In the 2011 West Bengal Legislative Assembly election, the Left Front was defeated by the All India Trinamool Congress which won an absolute majority of seats. This led to the end of 34 year Communist rule in West Bengal as well as the end of the longest serving democratically elected Communist government in the world. Mamata Banerjee, the leader of Trinamool Congress, became the chief minister. The success of the Trinamool Congress was repeated in the 2016 West Bengal Legislative Assembly election.

Under this administration, famous scandals include:

During the 2019 Indian General election, the BJP won 18 Lok Sabha seats sweeping the vote share of the Congress and the Left while the TMC, in spite of losing seats, increased their vote share. But in the 2021 West Bengal Legislative Assembly election, TMC secured a massive victory of 215 seats out of 294 seats.

Political Parties edit

National parties edit

Political party Flag Electoral symbol Political position Founded Founder WB unit leader Seats
Lok Sabha Rajya Sabha West Bengal Legislative Assembly
Bharatiya Janata Party     Right-wing 6 April 1980 Atal Bihari Vajpayee Sukanta Majumdar
16 / 42
1 / 16
65 / 294
Communist Party of India (Marxist)     Left-wing 7 November 1964 E. M. S. Namboodiripad Mohammed Salim
0 / 42
0 / 16
0 / 294
Indian National Congress     Centre to Centre-left 28 December 1885 Allan Octavian Hume Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury
2 / 42
2 / 16
0 / 294

State parties edit

Political party Flag Electoral symbol Political position Founded Founder Leader Seats
Lok Sabha Rajya Sabha West Bengal Legislative Assembly
All India Forward Bloc  
Left-wing 22 June 1939 Subhas Chandra Bose G. Devarajan
0 / 42
0 / 16
0 / 294
All India Trinamool Congress  
Centre to Centre-left 1 January 1998 Mamata Banerjee Mamata Banerjee
24 / 42
13 / 16
225 / 294

See also edit

Notes and references edit

  1. ^ Mukherjee, Rudrangshu (5 October 2008). "Murder, most foul – the people of Bengal created the darkness that envelops them". The Telegraph. Kolkata. Archived from the original on 18 January 2012. Retrieved 4 March 2012.
  2. ^ "West Bengal legislative assembly". Legislative bodies in India. National Informatics Centre, India. Archived from the original on 13 March 2016. Retrieved 28 October 2006.
  3. ^ Delimitation Commission (15 February 2006). "Notification: order no. 18" (PDF). New Delhi: Election Commission of India. pp. 23–25. Archived from the original (PDF) on 13 August 2011. Retrieved 11 February 2012.
  4. ^ "Composition of Rajya Sabha" (PDF). Rajya Sabha at work. New Delhi: Rajya Sabha Secretariat. pp. 24–25. Archived from the original (PDF) on 5 March 2016. Retrieved 15 February 2012.
  5. ^ Dr. Sailen Debnath, ed. Social and Political Tensions In North Bengal since 1947, ISBN 81-86860-23-1.
  6. ^ (Bennett & Hindle 1996, pp. 63–70)
  7. ^ Biswas, Soutik (2006-04-16). "Calcutta's colourless campaign". BBC. Retrieved 2006-08-26.
  8. ^ Indian National Congress had won 55 seats, Bangla Congress 33 and CPI 30. CPI(M) allies also won several seats.ECI: Statistical Report on the 1969 West Bengal Legislative Election Archived 29 November 2007 at the Wayback Machine
  9. ^ a b Bhattacharya, Snigdhendu (25 April 2011). "Ghost of Marichjhapi returns to haunt". The Hindustan Times. Archived from the original on 10 June 2015. Retrieved 5 August 2013.
  10. ^ Ross, Mallick. "The Morichjhanpi massacre: When tigers became citizens, refugees "tiger-food"" (PDF).
  11. ^ "Remembering Marichjhapi Massacre, 1979". insightyv.com. Archived from the original on 7 July 2009. Retrieved 16 May 2010.
  12. ^ Ghosh Roy, Paramasish (22 July 2005). "Maoist on Rise in West Bengal". VOA Bangla. Voice of America. Archived from the original on 12 December 2007. Retrieved 11 September 2006.
  13. ^ "Maoist Communist Centre (MCC)". Left-wing Extremist group. South Asia Terrorism Portal. Retrieved 2006-09-11.
  14. ^ "Several hurt in Singur clash". rediff News. Rediff.com India Limited. 28 January 2007. Retrieved 2007-03-15.
  15. ^ "Red-hand Buddha: 14 killed in Nandigram re-entry bid". The Telegraph. 15 March 2007. Archived from the original on December 4, 2012. Retrieved 2007-03-15.
  16. ^ "Terrorism and Rising Security Concerns in West Bengal | IPCS". www.ipcs.org. Retrieved 2021-11-25.
  17. ^ "2007-Nandigram violence: A state of failure". India Today. December 24, 2009. Retrieved 2021-11-25.
  18. ^ "CBI clean chit to Buddha govt on Nandigram firing". The Times of India. Retrieved 2021-11-25.
  19. ^ For more information on the Salim Group please see Sudono Salim
  20. ^ Asia Week
  21. ^ Far Easter Economic Review October 1998
  22. ^ Das, Madhuparna (2021-09-14). "Behind Bengal's Rs 1,900-cr 'coal scam' story is Class 8 dropout who began as 'petty coal thief'". ThePrint. Retrieved 2021-11-25.
  23. ^ Dhananjay Mahapatra (Oct 22, 2021). "bengal: Bengal trying to save accused, bar on CBI won't apply: Centre | India News - Times of India". The Times of India. Retrieved 2021-11-25.
  24. ^ "CBI arrests four persons in West Bengal coal pilferage scam". Zee News. 2021-09-27. Retrieved 2021-11-25.
  25. ^ "Coal scam case: TMC's Abhishek Banerjee to appear in front of ED on Monday". Hindustan Times. 2021-09-05. Retrieved 2021-11-25.
  26. ^ "Bengal coal scam: Delhi Court issues non-bailable warrant against accused Vinay Mishra". ANI News. Retrieved 2021-11-25.
  27. ^ "West Bengal coal scam case: TMC MP Abhishek Banerjee to appear before ED today". www.timesnownews.com. Retrieved 2021-11-25.
  28. ^ "Cattle smuggling case: CBI searches at multiple locations in West Bengal | India News - Times of India". The Times of India. PTI. Dec 31, 2020. Retrieved 2021-11-25.
  29. ^ Das, Madhuparna (2021-01-14). "8 Bengal IPS officers under CBI probe in Ponzi & cattle smuggling cases, TMC says don't care". ThePrint. Retrieved 2021-11-25.
  30. ^ "Anubrata Mondal in Tihar jail till April 3 over cattle smuggling case". The Telegraph.