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India: 34 Years of Communist Rule Ends in West Bengal

Today, Friday 13 May, 2011, saw change sweeping across the political landscape of West Bengal, India's fourth most populous state. Mamata Banerjee, leader of the All India Trinamool Congress Party (TMC), proved all skeptics wrong and swept into power, ending the 34 year long Communist rule in the state. Her party won 186 of 274 seats in the ongoing assembly elections, and together with allies, now commands 227 seats, heralding a decisive, landslide victory.

What was more, the Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee himself lost his seat to the TMC candidate by over 16,000 votes and resigned soon after, accepting “the verdict of the people”. After a 13-year long wait, Mamata Banerjee is on her way to becoming the first woman Chief Minister of West Bengal.

A victory sign is displayed by a party worker of Trinamool Congress after the poll result of West Bengal Assembly election 2011. Image by Arindam Dey. Copyright Demotix (13/5/2011)

A victory sign is displayed by a party worker of Trinamool Congress after the poll result of West Bengal Assembly election 2011. Image by Arindam Dey. Copyright Demotix (13/5/2011)

Throughout the day, the city wore a holiday look. The roads were pretty empty as most people sat glued to their televisions, following the vote-counting updates and analysis on a minute by minute basis. The entire state was abuzz with anticipation – “Will she? Won't she?”.

By afternoon the mandate was clear. The Communist Party had been routed, not only in West Bengal but also in Kerala – another of their bastions.

CHANGE - the people's choice. Image by author.

CHANGE – the people's choice. Image by author.

Netizens too were abuzz with the historic news. Tweets poured in fast and furious – some congratulatory and others hoping that the change eventually will be translated into positive action and good governance. Some also expressed concerns in this regard.

@swatigs: Historic win for TMC in Bengal for a generation who have seen only one party rule – we hope the ‘poriborton’ (change) will turn to progress.

@IndiaIn: Mamata shatters red citadel, sets to be WB's first woman CM: Set to take over the reins of West Bengal as its first woman chief minister

@subroto_kar: Congratulations Mamata and TMC. People of West Bengal have voted you with hope, don't let them down.

FirozeHoque: Congratulations Mamata Banarjee.We wanted change,you gave,love you Didibhai.#TMC #bengal

@rravishankar7: Mamata decimates the Left after almost 3 decades. India – the greatest democracy in the world. #democracy, #womenpower

@rameshsays: @thenewshour – Mamata is in the best position to effect radical changes in a State languishing in the “stone age” for long.

@ghoshsaikat: Finally the Red building has fallen to the Green group. But the question is does TMC have the necessary administrators to run a State Govt.?

@StevenWatson5: Congrats to Mamata. However, can she and her members be able to govern a state like West Bengal for the full term. I doubt it.

@ajaykumaraajtak: The biggest question in WB: will Mamata match soaring expectations of people. Bengal is so deprived that disenchantment will set in fast.

On the ground, there was jubilation and celebration among the TMC party workers and their allies and supporters. The mood in the party offices of the Left told it's own story.

The scene outside the local TMC party office and that of the ousted CPI(M). Image by author.

The scene outside the local TMC party office and that of the ousted CPI(M). Image by author.

Rezwan also contributed to this post.
  • ShibaProsadBhattacharyya

    May 20,2011

    Hon’ble Kumari Mamata Banerjiji Chief-Minister,

    The people of West Bengal have spoken their collective voice resonates loudly and overwhelmingly in praise of your vision and promises for West Bengal the beautiful as well the whole Country. Over the many voices, the chorus of a common refrain resounds: There is nothing we as a people cannot do if inspired by confidence in Chief-Minister, honest and transparent democratic Government, and equal opportunity in pursuit of happiness.

    Fundamental to our pursuit of happiness is confidence in the viability, integrity and safety of all institutions. The public’s confidence and reliance upon these institutions to create employment opportunity, to provide protection of the many from the greed of a few.With the mandate of people you have an opportunity to override the disturbing greed of vested interests that rule Bengal over 35years.

    It is time that the left rule are replaced with a new transparent effective and dynamic democratic apparatus in place under your leadership to protect the rule of law which has been tragically destroyed and dangerously undermined by the left.
    Upon your inauguration and ascendancy to the highest and most powerful constitutional office of the people of Bengal your message and promise of change will resound and echo throughout the country. There may be no better change to make than to repatriate confidence in the people of Bengal by immediately exercising your mandate to change the regulatory apparatus essential for all round growth.
    Change is your promise, and God willing, it will be your legacy.
    Congratulations on achieving the confidence of the people of Bengal and becoming the first ever woman Chief-Minister of the State of Bengal.

    The whole Bengal is with you.
    Warmest regards,
    Sincerely,
    Shiba Prosad Bhattacharyya.

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