In the lurch

Monobina Gupta brings her journalist experience to write on the state of West Bengal. Subtitled Time Travels among Bhadralok Marxists, Left Politics in Bengal traces the Left Front government’s rise to power in the wake of the Emergency. It tells the story of how a communist almost became India’s Prime Minister; and how the CPI-M powering its way to electoral victory through promises of empowerment to the most wretched, began gradually to betray its followers and abandon its ideology. Tracking the heady 60s and 70s, Left Politics in Bengal describes the CPI-M’s evolution from a party leading peasant movements to one that unleashed violence to take land away from the peasantry; from a party of unstinted opposition to the Congress to one keeping its former adversary in power at the Centre.

The author narrates a tale both deeply personal and objective. Through academic histories, literature, music, films, narratives of former comrades and her own journalistic and personal experience, she explores the structures and relations of power; specific not just to the CPI-M but communist parties in general. Emphasising both the representation of the Left in popular mentality, and the institutional changes wrought by the party in government, she creates a nuanced, well-observed portrait of a government’s fall from grace.

From Orient Blackswan, in our Politics section, 287 pages, Rs 245, ISBN: 9788125040248