ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846
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The Use and Abuse of Democracy in West Bengal

This article examines the left's engagement with democracy in West Bengal. Before 1967, the left built a deliberative democratic tradition in Bengal. The United Front governments and the Naxalite movement led to a radicalisation of politics, which was followed by a fratricidal conflict culminating in a counter attack on the entire left by the state. This defeat paved the way for a historic compromise of the parliamentary left. In 1977 this defeated left came to power, but it was a veritable political revolution as a middle class-led intermediate regime came to acquire social and political power. The central claim to legitimacy of this new regime was its contention of representing the people. Hence, disciplining them as well as securing their consent through the organisation and ideology of the communist party is central to their continuation in power. This new ruling class lives off the social surplus creating a fiscal crisis for the state. To get out of this crisis it ultimately has to surrender to capital, shift to a neoliberal growth model and increasingly attack democracy.

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