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Buddhadeb Bhattacharya


Buddhadeb Bhattacharya

Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee
বুদ্ধদেব ভট্টাচার্য
Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee
7th Chief Minister of West Bengal
In office
6 November 2000 – 13 May 2011[1]
Preceded by Jyoti Basu
Succeeded by Mamata Banerjee
In office
1987 – 13 May 2011
Preceded by Sankar Gupta[2]
Succeeded by Manish Gupta
Constituency Jadavpur
Personal details
Born (1944-03-01) 1 March 1944 (age 70)
Calcutta, Bengal, British India
Residence Palm Avenue, Calcutta
Alma mater University of Calcutta
Religion Atheist
Signature Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee's signature
As of January 27, 2007
Source: [CPI(M) official website]

Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee (Bengali: বুদ্ধদেব ভট্টাচার্য Buddhodeb Bhôṭṭacharjo; born 1 March 1944) is an Indian politician and a member of the politburo of the Communist Party of India (Marxist). He was the Chief Minister of West Bengal from 2000 to 2011. He was the MLA of Jadavpur constituency for twenty-four years until 13 May 2011, when he was historically defeated by the former Chief Secretary of his own government, Manish Gupta (who previously worked under him)[3] by a landslide 16,684 votes in the 2011 West Bengal election.[3] He is the second West Bengal Chief Minister to lose an election from his own constituency, after Prafulla Chandra Sen in 1967.[4]

Events during his tenure as Chief Minister included attempts to industrialise West Bengal thwarted by the TATA's Tata Motors leaving Bengal in the face of relentless opposition by Trinamool congress,[5] the land acquisition dispute in Singur, the Nandigram incident,[6] and the Netai incident.[7]

Early life

Born in 1944 in north Calcutta, the chief minister belongs to a family which had produced another famous son. Revolutionary poet Sukanta Bhattacharya was his father's cousin. A former student of Sailendra Sirkar Vidyalaya.[8] He studied Bengali literature at the Presidency College, Kolkata, and secured his B.A degree in Bengali (Honours), later he joined the CPI(M) as a primary member.[9] Besides taking active part in the food movement, he also supported Vietnam's cause in 1968. He was appointed state secretary of the Democratic Youth Federation, the youth wing of the CPI(M) that was later merged into the Democratic Youth Federation of India.


In 1977, he was elected as a Legislative Assembly Member for the first time. His constituency then was Cossipore. It was the first time that the CPI(M)-led Left Front came to power in West Bengal. He was given charge of the ministry of information and culture; it was his favourite position and during his tenure he contributed to Bengali theatre, movies and music. After losing the 1982 assembly election from Cossipore, he changed his constituency to Jadavpur in 1987. The move was successful; he won comfortably and regained his post.

Bhattacharjee is also known to be a passionate cricket fan. An avid traveller, he has toured extensively in China, the erstwhile Soviet Union, Cuba, Vietnam, Great Britain, France and Singapore. Bhattacharyya and his wife Meera have a daughter, Suchetana who is an environment and wildlife activist. He has refused to move to the designated residence of Chief Minister in honour of party patriarch Jyoti Basu and continued working from his one bed-room Lower Income Group government quarter at Palm Avenue, Kolkata.

In 1993,Buddhadeb tendered his resignation from the state cabinet due to a significant difference of opinion with Jyoti Basu. However, there has never been any conclusive evidence on reasons behind his leaving the cabinet and party's decision to bring him back within a couple of years. It is during this period, Buddhadeb has written a critique of poetry written by Jibanananda Das, the legendary bengalee poet named "Hridayer Shabdoheen Jyotsna-r Bhitor".

Not only did the two leaders (Jyoti Basu and Bhattacharjee) become closer during this period, Bhattacharjee also matured as a politician. He is considered to be one of the few leaders who is both moderate and efficient and can balance both the hardliners and liberals in the party. Which was why, since 1996, he was always considered a viable alternative to Basu.

This eventually led to his being promoted the Chief Minister, when Basu finally decided to step down in 2000, ahead of the State Assembly elections due in May 2001. Though Basu was ill and aged, his government was fast losing popularity. There were substantiated media stories about corruption involving Basu's son, and the state economy was generally losing steam. There was an investment flight away from the state, increased joblessness in urban areas, a serious crunch in technical and medical education facilities and a near-breakdown of health services at the time. Bhattacharjee was made the Chief Minister with the objective of making the administration look cleaner (he is seen as 'uncorruptible' to this day even by his critics) and more efficient. His clean image was primarily responsible for winning a record 6th term for the Left Front government in West Bengal in May 2001, though with a much reduced majority.

After becoming the chief minister Bhattacharjee has liberalized Bengal's economy significantly. He has attracted a lot of foreign investment in Bengal. Many new industries and information technology related services have emerged under his leadership. He is generally seen as a Communist leader who is open to reforms. However, his opponents have criticized him for taking farmlands to build industries. Bhattacharjee countered that these farmlands were not too productive; they would provide higher-paying jobs to many poor farmers. Some communists have also criticized Bhattacharjee for pursuing economic reforms. Recently Bhattacharjee said that he does not want to unionize the IT industry. Labour unions of Bengal have criticized this decision saying that this will lead to the exploitation of IT workers.

His biggest asset proved to be his clean image, which helped him lead the Left Front to a 7th consecutive term in 2006 Assembly Elections. He personally won from Jadavpur constituency with 127,837 votes. His victory margin went up from 29,281 in 2001 to 58,130 in 2006. His coalition improved its tally from 199 seats (out of 294) to 235 and reduced the other opposition parties to insignificance.

However, he took the biggest risk of his political career by embarking upon the industrialization drive to change the face of West Bengal, which has agriculture as primary source of income. He deviated from the standard Marxist doctrine to invite foreign and national capitals to set up factories in West Bengal. Notable among them was the worlds cheapest car Tata Nano[10] from a small hamlet near Kolkata called Singur. There were other proposals too, such as country's largest integrated steel plant in Salboni, West Midanpore district by Jindal group, and a chemical hub at Nayachar after it faced agrarian resistance in Nandigram. However, his plans backfired, and his party, along with its front partners, suffered heavy losses in the Lok Sabha election 2009. In the West Bengal state assembly election, 2011 he was defeated by the Trinamool congress candidate Manish Gupta by 16,684 votes


Main article: Nandigram violence

In January 2006 the Supreme Court of India issued notices to Left Front Government ministers including Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee and others in relation to land allotments made in the Salt Lake City township in Kolkata.[11]

Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee's Government came under heavy criticism for police action against demonstrators in Nandigram in East Midnapore. He was criticized not only by opposition parties (such as the Trinamool congress) and other Left Front coalition allies like Communist Party of India, Revolutionary Socialist Party (India) and Forward Bloc, who threatened to back out from the ministry on this issue, but also by his mentor and the state's former chief minister, Jyoti Basu.On March 15, 2007 Basu criticized Bhattacharjee for failing to restrain the police in Nandigram.[12] Bhattacharjee has expressed regret for the shootings, but claimed that he permitted police action because Nandigram was an "area where there had been no rule of law and no presence of an administration for not one, two or 10 days but for two-and-a-half months, and many hundreds of villagers left nandigram, and took shelter in a state relief camp outside nandigram."[13] Actually Budhhadeb Bhattacharjee declared that land in Nandigram won't be acquired by ordering the Nandigram notification to be torn apart.[14][15] Still police were not allowed to enter Nandigram. Roads were dug up preventing administration from entering the area.[14] The CPI(M) has declared that they are totally behind Bhattacharjee and have drawn up "plans" to placate his critics in the Left Front.[16] His government has also been criticized by Left supporters in failing to protect the Left party workers (including his own party CPI(M)) who came under assault from political opponents - both right wing and ultra-left wing Maoists during the post-Nandigram turmoil till the end of 7th Left Front Government.

See also

  • Eva Aariak, Commonwealth provincial leader who lost his own seat in election.


External links

  • Biographical article in Communist Party of India (Marxist) website
Preceded by
Jyoti Basu
Chief Minister of West Bengal
Succeeded by
Mamata Banerjee
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