When David surprised Goliath in West Bengal

The margin of victory of David over Goliath – more than 16,000 – shocked not only the electorate at Jadavpur when the red sun did not set off earlier, but it left the CPM mandarins at Alimuddin Street rushing for cover.

Expectedly, Bhattacharjee did not waste time and submitted his resignation.

Bhattacharjee’s resignation brought to an end the longest communist rule in India since 1977. Succumbing to the Mamata wave, the 66-year-old Communist Party of India-Marxist politburo member, facing the toughest electoral battle in his political career, succumbed to the tsunami called Mamata and failed to steer the Front to victory for the eighth time in a row in West Bengal.

Known to live a spartan life, Bhattacharjee, the dhoti-kurta clad Bengali Bhadralok (gentleman) with a clean image and a connoisseur of art and music himself, never moved out of his two-room government flat on Palm Avenue in south Kolkata  during his tenure as chief minister.

Bhattacharjee took over the reins from his mentor Jyoti Basu when the latter finally decided to step down as the country’s longest-serving chief minister on health grounds in November 2000, ahead of the Assembly elections in 2001 and led the Left Front to victory. In 1999, he was deputy chief minister of the state.

After leading the Front to a landslide victory with 235 out of 294 seats in the Assembly election in 2006, Bhattacharjee embarked on a mission of industrialising the state inviting national as well as foreign companies to set up factories. But he met his Waterloo on May 13,2011. Interestingly, Manish Gupta apart, all the five former Indian Police Service officers fielded by the Trinamool Congress won comfortably.

Gupta, who was chief secretary in 1998 during the tenure of Jyoti Basu and retired in 2001 serving one year under Bhattacharjee, handed his former boss the worst ever defeat in the latter’s political career and stopped his five-time winning run. Gupta polled 96,625 votes and Bhattacharjee 80,898.

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