By: Manpreet Kaur (Symbiosis Law School, Noida)
The longest serving party in the State of West Bengal lost its 34 year old reign in 2011 as its competence blunted and it ignored the strong movements by peasants. Moreover, the sexist-vulgar speeches by the party leaders and the unapologetic behavior of the party led to the end of its regime.
The inevitable finally took place when the Left Front government of West Bengal, the government which served for 34 long years, definitely the longest-serving government in India’s parliamentary history, was beaten wretchedly in the assembly elections in May 2011 by the Trinamool Congress, and not without reason.
The trounce of the left government had not come unexpectedly – the previously held elections (the 2008 Panchayat elections, 2009 Lok Sabha elections, 2010 Municipal elections and several by-elections in the State) had clearly exposed that the Communist Party of India (Marxist) had been losing its position, to a startling extent. The 2011 State Assembly elections completed the route of decline of the CPI(M) in the State of West Bengal.
The Left Front had served the highest number of years, i.e., 34 years at a stretch in the West Bengal since 1977, when it first came to power. The ascendancy of the Left Front government in West Bengal was a result of decades of struggle by various segments of the society, i.e. the students, teachers, workers, peasants, refugees, etc. under the leadership of the Left, and its chief political organ, the CPI(M). The constant survival of the Left Front government in the State for thirty-four years was indeed an extraordinary triumph. The greatest achievement of the Left Government in its record of 34 years of service was ‘safeguarding of the democratic rights’. Besides multiple campaigns from the opposition, the Left Government remained firm in its democratic principles. It was known for always promoting secularism in a diverse nation like India, along with protecting the rights of minorities. The backward sections of society like the dalits and the tribal populace, who nearly always suffered atrocities in other states of India, hardly ever faced such dehumanizing practices in West Bengal.Born out of the resistance against tyranny and state despotism, it was the commitment of the Left Front government to democracy which won it popular trust in the eyes of the people of West Bengal and made it possible to complete thirty four years of service in office.
The main reason behind the fall of the Left was the peasant revolution which occurred due to the old ideology of the land, livelihood and democracy adopted by the CPI(M). Since the protests by the peasants took place in Singur five years prior to the State assembly elections, the CPI(M) dismissed them as anti-industry movements and charged the ones supporting the protesting peasants of Singur of being Narodnik or Luddite. When Nandigram ensued, the CPI(M) described it as an anti-left conspiracy formulated by the far-right and the ultra-left, jointly. Regarding the revolt of Lalgarh against the mayhem created by the police, the CPI(M) joined hands with the Central government to let free a united parliamentary campaign. The CPI(M) though took its defeat in Lok Sabha elections held in 2009 seriously, but it never admitted serious political blunders on its part. CPI(M) did not apologize for forceful land acquisition in Singur or the mass destruction in Nandigram, thus no steps were taken for redressal. Thereafter, Nandigram was repeated in Netai. The CPI(M) leaders further aggravated their problems by delivering speeches during the election campaigns which reflected a high level of patriarchy, thus, leading to fall of the Left in the West Bengal, ending the 34 year old rule.
 (2007): “Thirty Years of West Bengal Left Front Govt.”,Official website of the Communist Party of India (Marxist), (17 June). Viewed on 23 June 2014 (http://cpim.org/content/thirty-years-west-bengal-left-front-govt).