The Rise and Fall of Communists in WB

Jyoti Basu enrolled in the Middle Temple, but his heart was not there

• His rule of two decades finished off Congress and Naxalites as well

Dr.Hari Desai*

• Once upon a time the left Front government headed by the Communist Party of India (Marxist) was so powerful in the West Bengal that the Congress Government headed by Chiman Patel in Gujarat and the RSS-run Rambhau Mhalgi Prabodhini headed by Pramod Mahajan, the strongman of Bharatiya Janata Party(BJP) in Vajpayee era, were sending study teams to grasp the magic of holding power.
• In 1930s, time was out of joint all over the world. There was turmoil in Europe as one country after another fell prey to ethnic hatred and dictatorship: in Italy it was Mussolini and his Fascists, in Germany it was Adolf Hitler and his Nazis, in Spain General Franco and his Falangists. Nazism was spreading its tentacles across Eastern Europe and Hitler openly supported General Franco in his bid to overthrow a democratically elected government. The only country that stood like a solid, impenetrable wall against the surge of aggressive fascism was the Soviet Union ruled the iron hand of Joseph Stalin.
• When Pranab Mukharjee, who retired as the President of India, was the President of the West Bengal Congress Committee, the firebrand Youth Congress President Mamata Banerjee was declined entry to Rajya Sabha. She left the Congress to establish her own All India Trinamool Congress in 1998, accusing the state Congress leaders dancing to the tune of the leftist and launched various agitations challenging the Communist regime. Initially, Ms Banerjee joined the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) and became the Union Minister in Vajpayee government. Later, she joined the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) headed by the Congress leader Dr. Manmohan Singh and withdrew her support.
• Basu had a chance to take up the responsibility of the Prime Ministership in a coalition government in 1996 but his party did not allow him to be the Prime Minister, paving way for H.D. Deve Gowda to be the PM. This was a biggest blunder on the part of the Politburo of the CPI(M).
• In June 1977 Assembly election, the CPI(M) headed Left Front won 243 seats out of 294 member West Bengal assembly. Till November 2000, Basu continued as the Chief Minister winning all the assembly elections. His successor Buddhadeb Bhattacharya could win only two assembly elections i.e. 2001 and 2006 and lost to the most aggressive Mamata in 2011.

writes weekly column Heritage History in Asian Voice Weekly of ABPL Group, London 18-24 August 2018