Red Fort crumbled in West Bengal
There is no Shakespearean tragedy in
the rout of the Left in West Bengal. In a democracy, political
parties win and lose electoral battles. In Kerala, which gave the
world the first elected Communist government in 1957, there are no
heartbreaks when the Marxists are periodically voted out. Each
Kolkata: Arrogance of
power, erosion of its rural vote bank and anger among Muslims were
the key reasons why the Left Front was routed in West Bengal, say
"It was the issue of land which consolidated the Left's base among
the rural people; it is the same issue which turned into their
nemesis," Sabyasachi Basu Ray Chaudhuri, a political scientist,
The Left Front built its base in rural areas with large-scale land
reforms after taking power in 1977. This vote base eroded over the
last five years following violence over land acquisition in Singur
Another crucial factor was the alienation of Muslims, forming a
fourth of the state's electorate.
For the greater part of their 34-year regime, the Left enjoyed the
support of the Muslims, who felt a sense of security and also
reaped the benefits of land reforms.
But a large section abandoned the Left after the murder of
Rizwanur Rehman -- and the Rajinder Sachar committee report that
highlighted the poor condition of the state's Muslims.
Chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee's delayed action against
police officers accused of bullying graphics teacher Rizwanur into
leaving his Hindu wife, the daughter of an influential
businessman, resulted in the Left losing considerable Muslim
support. The Trinamool Congress grained.
Rizwanur's body was later found near a rail track in a Kolkata
The Muslim anger can be gauged from the fact that Trinamool swept
90 of the 125 constituencies with sizeable minority population.
Overall, the Left won just 62 seats, compared to the Congress-Trinamool
combine's tally of 227. The result ended 34 uninterrupted years of
Left rule in West Bengal.
"They (Marxists) have done nothing except pay lip service. That is
why Muslims turned against them," Siddiqullah Chowdhury of the
People's Democratic Conference of India (PDCI), told IANS.
Three decades in power also made a section of Left leaders and
workers arrogant, the analysts say.
This was reflected not only among the grassroots level workers but
also in the speeches and comments of senior leaders including
One example was Bhattacharjee's comment -- "They have been paid
back in their own coin" -- after Communist Party of India-Marxist
(CPI-M) cadres, armed to the teeth, allegedly assaulted and killed
several villagers in Nandigram in 2007.
Earlier, a day after his chosen candidate, then Kolkata police
chief Prasun Mukherjee, lost to Jagmohan Dalmiya in the Cricket
Association of Bengal (CAB) presidential race, Bhattacharjee
called the result "victory of evil over good".
The widespread anger against the arrogance of many district and
local CPI-M leaders was fuelled by the party's unofficial stance
of politicising society and making inroads into every wing of the
societal apparatus, from schools to hospitals.
"They tried to take control of each and every apparatus of
society, starting from culture to socio-economic structures,"
political scientist Amal Mukhopadhyay said.
"The arrogance of power among CPI-M leaders and workers also
alienated the masses from the Marxists," said Basu Ray Chaudhuri,
He also said that non-governance during Bhattacharjee's stint
post-Nandigram also swayed the voters against the Left Front.
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