ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Everyday Politics and Corruption in West Bengal

Trinamool Congress’s decisive second term in West Bengal in 2016, even after serious corruption charges were levied on the party, makes it clear that corruption is not as important as was thought by the opposition. It is argued that corruption is conceived as a “necessary evil,” linked with quick and tangible delivery of public services. The recent rise of Bharatiya Janata Party, parallel to religious polarisation in the state, indicates a shrinking political space for non-BJP opposition in West Bengal.

A fortnight before the 2016 assembly elections in West Bengal, Narada News brought forth video clippings of 12 key Trinamool Congress (TMC) leaders, purportedly accepting bribes from an unidentified person. The impact of this sting operation made the TMC supremo Mamata Banerjee to acknowledge making a mistake in selecting candidates for the election (Hindustan Times 2016). The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) will continue its probe on the Narada News case following a Calcutta High Court directive of 17 March 2017 (Hindustan Times 2017). Will this bring corruption issues of the state to the forefront? Will it affect the public sphere and state’s political practices?

We have seen that despite serious corruption charges against the party just before the 2016 assembly elections, TMC won a second term with a decisive victory. TMC’s election victory is phenomenal, primarily because of three reasons. First, the party has single-handedly won in 211 constituencies, securing 45% of the total votes polled. Second, it has penetrated effectively in reserved constituencies—traditional Left Front bastions—and also in some of the constituencies of north Bengal which have been ruled by the Indian National Congress even during the Left Front era. Third, the Left Front which had ruled the state for 34 years at a stretch, has lost its position of opposition in the assembly.

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Updated On : 13th Mar, 2021
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