The history of West Bengal began in 1947, when the Hindu-dominated western part of British Bengal Province became the Indian state of West Bengal.

When India gained independence in 1947, Bengal was partitioned along religious lines. The western part went to India (and was named West Bengal) while the eastern part joined Pakistan as a province called East Bengal (later renamed East Pakistan, giving rise to independent Bangladesh in 1971).[1]

Bidhan Chadra Roy Era (1947–1962)

Princely state merge with West Bengal

In 1950, the Princely State of Koch Bihar merged with West Bengal after King Jagaddipendra Narayan had signed the Instrument of Accession with India.[2] In 1955, the former French enclave of Chandannagar, which had passed into Indian control after 1950, was integrated into West Bengal. Portions of Bihar were subsequently merged with West Bengal.[citation needed]

During Roy's Chief Minister-ship very few manufacturing industries were set up in the state. In 1954, when Dr. B. C. Roy was the Congress chief minister, a massive food crisis overtook the state. There was a near-famine condition in Bengal.[citation needed]

United Front (1967)

See also: United Front (1967)

1967 General Election

After the state legislative elections held in 1967, the CPI(M) was the main force behind the United Front government formed. The Chief Ministership was given to Ajoy Mukherjee of the Bangla Congress.[citation needed]

Naxalbari uprising

Main article: Naxalite

In 1967 a peasant uprising broke out in Naxalbari, in northern West Bengal. The insurgency was led by hardline district-level CPI(M) leaders Charu Majumdar and Kanu Sanyal. The Naxalbari movement was violently repressed by the West Bengal government. During the 1970s and 1980s, severe power shortages, strikes and a violent Marxist-Naxalite movement damaged much of the state's infrastructure, leading to a period of economic stagnation.

The Bangladesh Liberation War of 1971 resulted in the influx of millions of refugees to West Bengal, causing significant strains on its infrastructure.[3] The 1974 smallpox epidemic killed thousands. West Bengal politics underwent a major change when the Left Front won the 1977 assembly election, defeating the incumbent Indian National Congress. The Left Front, led by Communist Party of India (Marxist), has governed for the state for the subsequent three decades.[4]

Dismissal of United Front government

In November 1967, the West Bengal United Front government was dismissed by the central government. Initially the Indian National Congress formed a minority government led by Prafulla Chandra Ghosh, but that cabinet did not last long. Following the proclamation that the United Front government had been dislodged, a 48-hour hartal was effective throughout the state. After the fall of the Ghosh cabinet, the state was put under President's Rule.[citation needed]

1969 Assembly election

Fresh elections were held in West Bengal in 1969. CPI(M) emerged as the largest party in the West Bengal legislative assembly.[5] But with the active support of CPI and the Bangla Congress, Ajoy Mukherjee was returned as Chief Minister of the state. Mukherjee resigned on March 16, 1970 and the state was put under President's Rule.[citation needed]

Shiddharthrasankar Ray Era (1972–1977)

Indian National Congress the 1972 assembly election, and its leader Siddhartha Shankar Ray became the chief minister. During this period, the then Prime Minister of India, Indira Gandhi proclaimed nationwide Emergency in 1975.[citation needed]

This period was marked by large scale violence as the police force battled with the naxalites and ultimately crushed the movement in the state[citation needed].

Left Front era

Jyoti Basu (1977–2000)

1977 Election

In the 1977 election of the state legislature, the Left Front, headed by Communist Party of India (Marxist), won 243 seats thereby gaining a majority. The first Left Front government was established with Jyoti Basu as the Chief Minister.[citation needed]

Marichjhanpi Massacre, 1979

The massacre in Marichjhanpi, which took place under CPI(M) rule in Bengal between January 26 and May 16, 1979, relates to the forcible eviction of refugees who had fled from East Pakistan thereby leading to the death of a sizable population among them.[citation needed]

Out of the 14,388 families who deserted [for West Bengal], 10,260 families returned to their previous places … and the remaining 4,128 families perished in transit, died of starvation, exhaustion, and many were killed in Kashipur, Kumirmari, and Marichjhapi by police firings (Biswas 1982, 19).[6][7]

After leading the Left Front government for consecutive five terms, Jyoti Basu retired from active politics and Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee was appointed as his successor. Five years later, the Left Front came back to the power with Bhattacharjee again assuming the office of the Chief Minister.[8]

Budhdhadev Bhattacharya (2000–2011)

The state's economic recovery gathered momentum after economic reforms in India were introduced in the early 1990s by the central government, aided by election of a new reformist Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharya in 2000. As of 2007, armed activists have been organizing terrorist attacks in some parts of the state,[9][10] while clashes with the administration have taken place at several sensitive places on the issue of industrial land acquisition.[11][12]

Nandigram violence

Main article: Nandigram violence

The Nandigram violence was an incident in Nandigram, West Bengal where, on the orders of the Left Front government, more than 4,000 heavily armed police stormed the Nandigram area with the aim of stamping out protests against the West Bengal government's plans to expropriate 10,000 acres (40 km2) of land for a Special Economic Zone (SEZ) to be developed by the Indonesian-based Salim Group. The police shot dead at least 14 villagers and wounded 70 more.[citation needed]

The SEZ controversy started when the government of West Bengal decided that the Salim Group of Indonesia[13][14][15] would set up a chemical hub under the SEZ policy at Nandigram, a rural area in the district of Purba Medinipur. The villagers took over the administration of the area and all the roads to the villages were cut off. A front-page story in the Kolkata newspaper, The Telegraph, on 4 January 2007 was headlined, "False alarm sparks clash". According to the newspaper that village council meeting at which the alleged land seizure was to be announced was actually a meeting to declare Nandigram a "clean village", that is, a village in which all the households had access to toilet facilities.[citation needed]

Trinamool Congress era

In the 2011 West Bengal Legislative Assembly election, Left Front was defeated and Trinamool Congress won an absolute majority of seats.[16] Mamata Banerjee, the leader of Trinamool Congress, became the chief minister. The success of Trinamool Congress was repeated in the 2013 Panchayat election (local government elections in rural areas, and some urban municipalities) and the 2014 Indian general election (in which Trinamool won 34 of 42 Lok Sabha constituencies in the state).


  1. ^ Harun-or-Rashid (2012). "Partition of Bengal, 1947". In Islam, Sirajul; Jamal, Ahmed A. (eds.). Banglapedia: National Encyclopedia of Bangladesh (Second ed.). Asiatic Society of Bangladesh.
  2. ^ Dr. Sailen Debnath, ed. Social and Political Tensions In North Bengal since 1947, ISBN 81-86860-23-1.
  3. ^ Chaudhury, Amit (1996). "Mother Teresa". In Hindle, Jane (ed.). London Review of Books: An Anthology. Verso. p. 65. ISBN 1-85984-121-X.
  4. ^ Biswas, Soutik (16 April 2006). "Calcutta's colourless campaign". BBC. Retrieved 26 August 2006.
  5. ^ Indian National Congress had won 55 seats, Bangla Congress 33 and CPI 30. CPI(M) allies also won several seats.ECI: Statistical Report on the 1969 West Bengal Legislative Election Archived 29 November 2007 at the Wayback Machine
  6. ^ Ross, Mallick. "The Morichjhanpi massacre: When tigers became citizens, refugees "tiger-food"" (PDF).
  7. ^ "Remembering Marichjhapi Massacre, 1979". Archived from the original on 7 July 2009. Retrieved 16 May 2010.
  8. ^ Bhattacharya, Snigdhendu (25 April 2011). "Ghost of Marichjhapi returns to haunt". The Hindustan Times. Archived from the original on 10 June 2015. Retrieved 5 August 2013.
  9. ^ Ghosh Roy, Paramasish (22 July 2005). "Maoist on Rise in West Bengal". VOA Bangla. Voice of America. Archived from the original on 12 December 2007. Retrieved 11 September 2006.
  10. ^ "Maoist Communist Centre (MCC)". Left-wing Extremist group. South Asia Terrorism Portal. Retrieved 11 September 2006.
  11. ^ "Several hurt in Singur clash". rediff News. India Limited. 28 January 2007. Retrieved 15 March 2007.
  12. ^ "Red-hand Buddha: 14 killed in Nandigram re-entry bid". The Telegraph. 15 March 2007. Archived from the original on 4 December 2012. Retrieved 15 March 2007.
  13. ^ For more information on the Salim Group please see Sudono Salim
  14. ^ "Asia Week". Archived from the original on 14 November 2007. Retrieved 16 May 2010.
  15. ^ "Far Easter Economic Review October 1998". Archived from the original on 19 July 2002. Retrieved 16 May 2010.
  16. ^ "The Anti-Communist of West Bengal". Forbes. Retrieved 18 April 2011.