ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846
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The CPI(M) 'Machinery' in West Bengal: Two Village Narratives from Kochbihar and Malda

Although the left parties are to a large extent responsible for the democratic changes that have taken place in rural West Bengal, power remains concentrated in the ruling elite and modifications are required for democratisation to become meaningful. This paper suggests a model for understanding how the Communist Party of India (Marxist) "machinery" functions to secure electoral power and ideological hegemony for the left regime, especially at the panchayat level in everyday village politics. The protean capacity of the party allows changes at the local level in pragmatic ways, serving incompatible interests without being seen as different formations. The CPI(M) is clearly adept in formulating different strategies for different tiers of the panchayat system, calibrating their rivalries. Two village narratives help explore these aspects.

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