Theory & Struggle

LEFT GOVERNMENTS IN POWER

Reflections on running a Left Front government in West Bengal from 1977 to 2011

Theory & Struggle (2019), 120, (1), 60–66.

Abstract

The thirty-four years of Left Front government (LFG) in the state of West Bengal, India, is probably unprecedented in the history of parliamentary democracy across the world. The LFG was a combination of Marxists and leftists advancing an alternative programme to that of the Indian central government. In analysing the evolution of the LFG, the West Bengal State Committee has openly shared its experiences, the challenges as well as the successes, along with the limitations and weaknesses. This article starts by summarising earlier experiences of left governments in power in Indian states. This sets the context for the discussion of the LFG’s remarkable achievements in West Bengal, despite the obstacles. The article concludes by reflecting on the reasons for its eventual loss of popular support. There are lessons here for left governments of the future. The article is based on a lecture given by the author at the Marx Memorial Library, as part of a series on left governments in power.

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Author details

Bains, Harsev