West Bengal

Introduction:

Located in eastern India, West Bengal is the fourth most populous state in India. The state shares its borders with Bangladesh, Nepal and Bhutan. The state is also geostrategically significant as it consists of the narrow stretch of Siliguri Corridor (also known as the Chicken’s neck) connects the Northeastern states with the rest of India.

The state has 20 districts and Kolkata is the capital city. During the British era Calcutta (later Kolkata) also served as the capital of British India till 1911. West Bengal was carved out of the undivided Bengal and became a part of India owing to its Hindu majority population. The eastern part of Bengal acceded to Pakistan and came to be known as East Pakistan since Pakistan’s formation which later became Bangladesh following the 1971 Indo-Pak war.

English and Bengali were two official languages of the state. In 2011, the state government added six more languages, namely Urdu, Gurmukhi, Nepali, Ol-Chiki, Oriya and Hindi.

Demographics:

The state has a population of 9.13 Crores (Census 2011). The Female population is 4.44 Crores and the male population is 4.68 Crores. The Literacy rate is 76.26%. Hindu population is 6.43 crores and the Muslim Population is crores. Urban and Rural population: 68.13% (Rural) and 31.87% (Urban).

Economy:

Gross State Domestic Product was US$ 132.86 billion in 2014-15 with a growth rate of 7.15 percent in 2014-15. Unemployment rate was 5.2 percent. Agriculture is the leading occupation in the state.

Political Parties:

The Indian National Congress dominated the political scenario in West Bengal since Independence, but the decade of 1960s was a turbulent phase which saw a challenge to the Congress Party in Centre as well as the States. The state elections of 1967 turned out to be a watershed event in the electoral history of Congress as it failed to win a majority.

These elections also marked the emergence of the Communist Party of India (Marxist), which was to rout the congress in 1977. In 1977, the CPM registered a massive electoral success building upon its grassroots connect and large scale mobilization of people. The left regime lasted till 2011. The land reforms undertaken by the West Bengal Government immediately after coming to power are cited as one of the greatest achievements by the Left regime. The government was led by the charismatic Chief Minister Jyoti Basu, who stepped down in 2000 and Buddhadev Bhattacharjee continued from 2000 to 2011.

After 2006, a turnaround could be sensed and the left regime’s policies of land acquisition most notably in Singur and Nandigram created a widespread discontent with the deteriorating governance of Left Front. In 2011, the 34 year long rule was replaced by the Trinamool Congress (TMC) led by Mamata Banerjee, who became the Chief Minister. The TMC was formed when Mamata Banerjee broke away from the Congress Party in 1998. Her constant agitation against the land acquisition policies of the ruling

Left won Mamata Banerjee a huge popularity. Mamata Banerjee is the current Chief Minister and Keshari Nath Tripathi is the present Governor.

Manifesto:

Agriculture, industrialization and empowerment of youth are the focus areas mentioned in the TMC manifesto, which has been written in first person by Mamata Banerjee. The manifesto states that “the vision of ‘New Bengal’ will be realized through the establishment of industries and empowerment of youth. Keeping these two vital factors in mind, we will march ahead, into a new era of Bengal… A Bengal which will reaffirm the statement: What Bengal thinks today, India thinks tomorrow”. CPM’s Manifesto calls for a secular democratic government. It has resolved to free all political prisoners, and withdrawal of false cases, besides ensuring that police and the administration work neutrally for securing a society free of fear by strictly dealing with anti- socials. It also promised to ensure the transparent functioning of statutory bodies to deliver on human rights issues and deepen the democratic participation. Tackling communalism is an important issue on CPM’s agenda.

On the other hand, the Bharatiya Janta Party, which is virtually absent from the state’s political scenario has also promised to deliver on the economic front if elected. Most importantly, the BJP’s Manifesto vows to drive out “infiltrators” from the state, referring to the Bangladeshi immigrant population. Recently, the BJP ruled Central government also got declassified the confidential government records on Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose. The move was also aimed at attracting a voter base as Netaji remains hugely popular even today.

The results of the 2016 state elections, which came out on May 19, 2016, are as follows:

Image source: http://www.ndtv.com/elections