West Bengal has often been perceived as somewhat of an aberration in the wider context of a rather chaotic Indian democracy, as the Left Front (spearheaded by the Communist Party of India-Marxist, CPIM) demonstrated a rare instance of political stability, decisively winning seven consecutive democratic elections from 1977 to 2006. Its development record has also been substantial, with a focus on land reforms, the panchayati-raj institution, and an agriculture centric development agenda.
This book presents a reappraisal of the political economic history of the CPIM/Left Front regime against the backdrop of the Indian reform experience. It examines two distinct areas: the conditions that necessitated the regime to engineer a transition from an erstwhile agricultural-based growth model to a more pro-market economic agenda post-1991, and the political strategy employed to manage such a transition, attract private capital and at the same time sustain the regime’s traditional rhetoric and partisan character. In order to develop a more textured understanding of the recent political developments in West Bengal, the author applies a historically nuanced and inductive political-economic analysis, which draws on published materials, and primary material such as government documents and interviews (with bureaucrats, political activists, members of the intelligentsia and ministers).
A valuable contribution to the ongoing debate in the literature on the drifts underway with the Indian Left and India’s economic transformation post-1990s, this book will be of interest to academics in the field of Political Science, Government, Political Economy and South Asian Studies.
Table of Contents
1. The Politics Of Economic Transition: Surprises, Perspectives, and the Indian Reform Experience
2. From Bhadraloks to Party-Society: Trends in Bengali Left Politics
3. The Production and Legitimisation of Hegemony: Political Rationale of the CPIM
4. Reforming by Compulsion? Fiscal, Federal and Ideological Choices
5. The Politics of Transition: Contradictions, Negotiation and Consensus
6. Land, Consent And Violence: ‘Implosion’ of the Shadow State
Ritanjan Das received his PhD in Development Studies from the London School of Economics and Political Science, and is currently working as Senior Lecturer at the University of Portsmouth, UK. His research focuses on the political economy of development, dispossession, power and cultural identity in contemporary India.