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India’s West Bengal: A Revolution In The Making – Analysis

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As the international community remains glued to the spiraling unrest in Middle East, the fragrance of jasmine is on the verge of dethroning one of the longest serving Communist regimes anywhere on earth.

The Indian province of West Bengal has been an invincible fortress of the Communist Party for the last three decades.

Termed as the left bastion of India, this province has empowered the Communists to become the lifeline of several ragtag coalition governments that ruled India intermittently. And yet at the end of the day they are struggling to retain any worthwhile influence in this part of the globe afflicted with rising inequalities, poverty and hunger.

This fall from grace is attributed by political analysts to the ruthless suppression of democratic aspirations and illegal application of muscle power by the Left regime for a better part of their reign.

India's West Bengal
India's West Bengal

Indeed it has been a genuine concern for the masses and a reader of this author’s previous article on Libyan conflict did not miss the opportunity to make an oblique reference regarding Communist atrocity. Unfortunately, there is no denying the gory fact that the province which earned the epithet of India’s cultural capital due to its affinity to intellectualism has turned into a virtual fiefdom of a pugnacious organization apparently positioning itself as a bell-wether of the proletariat.

In reality however, the Indian Communists having embraced neo-liberal agendas wasted no time in effectively transmogrifying its role into patronage and benefit disbursal.

This sudden change of image has inevitably dented the pro-poor façade and luster of the Marxist party while corroding its vital class base in the process.

Alarmingly, the province has fragmented into innumerable pockets of influence in the grassroots controlled by local apparatchiks.

These self appointed satraps have spread their reign of terror under the very nose of the disarrayed leadership. The matter has reached such an alarming stage that even a close political aide of the provincial Chief Minister who generally doubles up as his election agent does not hesitate to tread into activities that are by definition unlawful.

Intriguingly, the formidable trade union wings as well as the sister organizations are often hijacked by infamous individuals with little or no ideological mooring. They remain completely engrossed in wheeling and dealing for personal gain throughout the season.

These self-seekers are in fact presently entrenched in influential positions of the Marxist dispensation at various levels. Being accused of betraying the trust of the peasantry, the left forces are confronting a virtual route in an overwhelmingly left liberal stronghold despite the fact that they have effectively throttled the growth of any viable political alternative for almost two decades.

The barrage of discontentment has burst into a flash flood of popular fury waiting to flush the regimented political organization into oblivion. The Marxists have presided over a systematic decline in all spheres of life in their overzealous bid to promote party loyalty.

Successive studies have carefully documented the rapid slide in social and economic index. From maintaining law and order to providing the basic necessities of food, shelter and clothing; from industries to education – West Bengal is limping alongside the tail-enders. The unending saga of treachery, terror and despotism is written all over in this province of the Indian republic.

This palpable decay has resulted in the flight of capital and industries, stagnation in the agrarian economy, tattering infrastructure gasping for life and a fiscal degradation of worst nature. As the devastated province eagerly pray for a magical and divine intervention to revive its sagging fortune, the political opposition has offered an orderly channel for the suppressed and oppressed citizens to vent their anger democratically.

While millions of people including intelligentsia who were once active sympathizers of the Marxist Communist government take advantage of this unique platform, a resonant slogan of “change” is reverberating in the atmosphere. Indeed there has been a collective fatigue among the people of this beleaguered province from decades of uninterrupted Communist rule and they are desperate to wriggle out of this authoritarian syndrome of “come what may the Communist party must stay in power in West Bengal”.

This attitude has in fact led to the cynical disregard for liberty, rights and traditions with the party apparatus continuously emphasizing on the necessity to justify all means that lead to the fruits of power. And only power can provide the flag bearers of the subaltern class to sit on assets worth millions of rupees while their core constituency struggle day and night to survive on paltry income.

Come April 18, the first voting day of a six phase election, the electorate of West Bengal will give a hammer-blow to the hammer and sickle party for having exploited their sentiments for so long. But it would be a bit amateurish to even presume that the ruling party would surrender power without a fight. They are already working overtime to regain their lost support base.

With Psephologists predicting a close 43% vote share for the ruling left coalition as against the 44% drifting into opposition kitty, any complacency on the part of opposition might provide a level playing field for the Communist party.

One must not underestimate the extra ordinary skill of the regimented Communist structure in organizing en masse voting especially in the rural hinterland. Given their additional expertise in electoral malpractices, lowering the guard will only help them bridge the narrow gap significantly.

However, India’s first past the post electoral system will see the opposition sailing through even with a negative index of opposition unity unless there is a major internal sabotage. It is only a matter of time before the century old red brick edifice called “Writers Building” situated in the heart of West Bengal’s capital Kolkata host the province’s first female Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee.

The real challenge for the shadow Chief Minister who has been tasked with reviving the dwindling fortune of Indian Railways however starts thereafter. She will be scrutinized at every step of her journey towards restoring Bengal’s lost glory and reviving a State whose outstanding liability runs into billions of rupees, roughly equivalent to 43% of the GDP.

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Seema Sengupta

Seema Sengupta is a journalist based in Kolkata, India and a Contributing Writer for The Korea Times, Seoul. Her articles have been published by Asia Times Online, South China Morning Post, The Bengal Post and other newspapers. Recipient of National Award for Excellence in appreciation of excellent services rendered in the field of Freelance Journalism, 1999. She can be reached at [email protected]

4 thoughts on “India’s West Bengal: A Revolution In The Making – Analysis

  • Avatar
    April 5, 2011 at 6:36 am
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    History of Bengal after independence is divided into two periods; period of famine (1947 – 1977) and the period of delayed success (1977 – till date). There was famine in 1959, 1966, and 1974. Famines were mainly due to non-cultivation of land under jotedar ownership. Agriculture is not much profitable for them. After 1977, due to land reform, food production is up and famine problem is solved. There was one potential famine in 1978 (due to big flood), but panchayat and co-ordination committee avoided a famine like situation. So the new period of delayed success started. Haldia is delayed by 12 yrs, Bakreswar by 8 yrs. Singur will also come one day after some delay like Haldia. DELAYED SUCCESS IS BETTER THAN FAMINE.

    Reply
  • Avatar
    April 5, 2011 at 12:34 pm
    Permalink

    What is this expertise in election malpractices? People like you have been harping on such so called scientific rigging but nobody has found any rigging in West Bengal till date.

    The corporate Indian media has gone crazy and mad to ouster the left from Bengal that is proving a stumbling block in pro imperialist policies of UPA government.

    Reply
  • Avatar
    April 7, 2011 at 10:24 am
    Permalink

    The coalition government of the Left parties did embark upon land reforms in the mid 70s and their frontal organizations played a positive role during the 1978 flood. But then those were the days when a Communist leader would ride his bicycle through the constituency enquiring about the well being of the people. Today, SUVs are the favorite vehicle of the supposed revolutionaries and moving out of the air conditioned comfort is something unimaginable. There are instances of Communist leaders not only sitting on unaccounted wealth but also evading taxes these days. Above all the leadership has been more than inclined in collaborating with private promoters to upgrade their modest party offices into glittering palatial structures and such privilege surely doesn’t come for free.

    Regarding electoral malpractice, the Election Commission of India is literally sitting on an explosive document prepared by none other than an election observer called Mr. Afzal Amanullah. The detailed report actually decoded the innovative methods of rigging and malpractices perfected by the ruling Communists and their associates in West Bengal. The Marxists are indeed lucky that this evidence has been kept under wraps partly due to technical reasons and political compulsion.

    Aggressively seeking foreign investment from American multinationals and harping on the old imperialist jargon simultaneously is a glaring contradiction that the Communists have perfected over the years. One wonder whether this so called fight against imperialism makes any sense when political leaders swearing by socialism shows no inhibition in sending their children to the United States for education purpose. Some of them are in fact working for multinationals who fits into the imperialist definition.

    Seema Sengupta,
    Journalist.

    Reply
  • Avatar
    September 13, 2011 at 6:13 am
    Permalink

    DELAYED SUCCESS IS BETTER THAN FAMINE.
    Respected Sims Sengupta,
    Now there is no LF govt ? How many corruption cases has come forward ? Mr Susanta’s house is searched and five lakh rs is found . Are you sure, that this is an investigation ? Many faults of LF may be found. Still the lies of singur ( 400 acre story ) and lies of nandigram ( how police will not fire if road is digged ? there was no land aquisition in nandigram ) ; these lies should be patronised by journalists.

    Reply

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