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29 years in Bengal & going strong

1977

The Communist Party of India-Marxist-led Left Front government won its first assembly election in West Bengal in 1977. The CPI-M ousted the Congress government lead by Siddhartha Shankar Ray.

The win came at a crucial point in Indian political history. Prime Minister Indira Gandhi had just lifted the Emergency (June 1975 to January 1977) and the Congress party had suffered severe nationwide criticism and defeat.

That was the last time any other political party ever ruled the state. It marked the arrival of veteran Marxist Jyoti Basu, then 63, as chief minister, a post he held for 23 years till he resigned in 2000 on health grounds.

Basu (in image) emerged as a colossus of Indian politics and was India's longest serving chief minister.

The CPI-M won 178 seats in the assembly; in 1972, the CPI-M only won 14 seats. The Congress tally fell from 216 to 20.

Text: Rediff News Features Desk | Photographs: AFP/Getty Images

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