Opinion Based BlogConstitutional Law

Whether West Bengal Distanced Itself From Rule Of Law: Democracy Being Hurt For Years

Author: Pratap J., 2nd year LL.B. student at Dayanand College of Law, Latur, Maharashtra.


Bengal has distanced itself from rule of law and hurted democracy since long period of time. It doesn’t mean that all the other states are governed with the rule of law but the case of Bengal is different in many ways. The rule of law is being violated in Bengal for the reasons are political ideologies, principles and for power than communal, religion based riots, linguistic riots which are dominant in other states. The people of Bengal are highly and excessively aware about politics so mostly violence takes place during elections among the party workers. Since 2014, Bengal experiences that another ideology peeping out that is known as Hindutva which added to the political violence.

Rule of Law

 Thomas Paine stated in a pamphlet, “The Law is King, in an absolute government the King is Law, in free governments the Law ought to be King and there should not be any other.” The term Rule of Law is taken from French la principe de legalite (the principle of legality) which indicates that a government is based on principles of law and not on men.[1] From this point of view, one can say that the governments did not perform on the principles of the supreme law of the country and the substantive laws which were anti-democratic actions in nature. The situation neither in Congress rule was different, nor in Left Front rule or even Mamata Banerjee’s rule, it will not change violence mark of Bengal politics because the common intention can be seen as ‘Money, Muscle, Superiority and Power’ (MMSP) regardless to the democratic values and the Rule of law.

West Bengal marked with Violence

It is the democracy where everyone has rights, views and opinions, at the same time, each and every political party has rights to implement their philosophy, ideology and agenda after coming into power otherwise contrary to the Constitution, the supreme law of the land. In the context of West Bengal, more or less every ruling party played a role contrary to this that resulted into violence, riots, massacre, corruption, exploitation etc. West Bengal was marked with Violence all time and in every government’s rule, there is no exception to it. There are different reasons, different forms and gravity of violence but intention is the same one ‘Money, Muscle, Superiority and Power’ (MMSP). During Left Front rule, it was class and communist ideological violence institutionalized and organized by the party and the government support. During Left Front rule, there was no called Rule of Law and something like Democracy good examples of this five major massacres Sainbari killings (1970), Nanoor massacre (200), Marichjhapi massacre (1979), Ananda Margi Monks Burnt Alive (1982), Singur Massacre (2007). Violent culture of communist was characterised “anything between a fascist and a Mafioso”[2] so called ignorant “Bhadraloks” used to romanticise violence. Trinamool Congress’(TMC) rule also could not escape from the stigma of violence which is unfortunately a legacy of ‘class and communal violence’ in Bengal politics. During TMC rule, it’s form changed from class and ideological to party, personality (Mamata Banerjee like Modi), Caste, and anti- secularism, communal violence. Recently, Election riots took place at Cooch Bihar causing death of four people,[3] openly use of weapons to threaten and kill people. At the end of II term of TMC, the form of violence was same as Left Front as organized by BJP and Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) but these are mostly religious and communal which seems anti-secular. Another cause to keep Bengal in crisis was that RSS across Bengal’s districts, in the far-flung tribal areas, and the strands of right-wing conservatism and political ideology that were an inseparable part of Bengal’s history,[4] was the future challenge to the present ruler.

Democracy being hurt for ages

General concept of democracy is that “it is a form of government of people for the people by the people to govern themselves binding by the rules of law called the Constitution of that country. Such government assures liberty, equality, freedom to follow their religion, customs, practices and tries to establish welfare state.” But all ruling parties in Bengal, to the certain extent, kept away the rule of law and created ‘conflicting interests’ and tried to dominate through class, culture, religion. The people, those who were against and not vote for them, were being spied and deprived from basic facilities. CPI(M) used murder as a political weapon in organized manner, on the other hand the intellectuals were nurtured and created to impress people like fishermen, small traders and hapless farmers to join the party line but were not commenting on the violence.[5] Those who were loyal to the party were awarded with government jobs or other benefits in local governments as well gaining high social status.[6] This policy made clear discrimination among the people on the basis of communist ideology which against rule of law and equality before law.

In 2011 Assembly Election, Mamata Banerjee, emerged and won single handed power in West Bengal by giving clean sweep to Left Front. It was not an easy task for Didi to take over, it was the voice against cruel and ruthless government where freedom of expression had no place. She used “Ma, Mati o Manush” (Mother, Land and People) and ‘Parivartan’ successfully for anti-incumbency.[7] Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has arrested several people for criticizing her, including Sanmoy Banerjee, Congress Party spokesperson in the state; Priyanka Sharma, BJP youth leader; Anirban Das, social activist; and Aseem Trivedi, cartoonist.[8]As the assembly election was approaching, Centre ruled BJP took keen interest in West Bengal with the policy of ‘what you don’t have, acquire’[9] by hook or crook, ‘money, muscle and power’, appealing to Hindus in the name of ‘Jay Shri Ram’ attacking on TMC’s appeasement of Muslims as contrast to the secularism. This strategy conflicted with TMC secularism which resulted in violence before the election being held in West Bengal. BJP started polarising the politics in the name of religion and cultural heritage. Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar criticized law and order as state government is misusing power of police to suppress opposition party workers and the people who criticize the state government. “There is no rule of law… democracy is being hurt here.. the police are being politicized… forgetting that we all are accountable to the law. Good governance is impossible without following the law….government employees must be apolitical…. the anarchy of the state continues.”[10]

Role of Centre

While criticizing Bengali political history, one has to notice our centralized federal structure and division of power provides that to keep an eye on the law and order in a state through Governor. The Center Government might have avoided to interfere in Bengal because non-Congress Chief Minister conclave demanding less interference of centre in state affairs specially by Jyoti Basu that was against ‘strong centre-subordinate states’ principle. During Left Front rule, no central government paid attention strict action against the violence and violation of DPSPs and many other substantive laws by the state but the centre-state both had issues like rights over coal mine, Gorkhaland, appointment of Governors, financial powers, imposition of Presidential rule.[11] The then Centre and Governor were neither active nor authorized to central agencies to probe into the state, but in present scenario, both the Centre and the Governor are excessively active to misuse power and constitutional machineries through CBI, ID and Election Commission too. This kind of activeness resulted in inflaming the Bengal violence than controlling it which added to the history of violence in the state.

Inactive Judiciary

The independent judiciary of the nation was absent when remarkable violence and massacres took place in the state. Neither the High Court nor the Apex Court of the country took cognizance by ‘suo Moto’ power. The question arises on the judicial activism and on its different methods which are used for maintaining check and balance. The Apex Court is the custodian of the constitution and people’s fundamental rights but it let the hapless, poor, innocent people die like animals that there no value for human lives. This continued not only during the Left Front but during TMC rule also. If judiciary was active from the beginning of Left Front, the history of Bengal would be different and there would not be any question of the Rule of Law.

The Question of Rule of Law

The question arises whether the then government was powerless to stop such incidents? Why did the then government leave people to die without any protection or even sympathy? It was clear that the Left Front government was anti-democratic, suppression of freedom of speech and expression, to put an end to opposition parties leading to absolute power and kept ruling with communist principles as Stalin used in Russia.

CPI(M) started land acquisition in the name of Land Reform forcefully, from less landholders and sharecroppers, sparking violence in Singur and Nandigram. They implemented one of the strategies of territorial control known as “elaka dokhol”, was another Left’s political weapon to spread fear in the mind of people.[12] The government is there to protect, promote welfare schemes and assure their rights but the party agenda was warning to the people in II term election: ‘goodies for loyalists, the stick for everyone else.’[13] That was a government or political party which officially and openly threatened the people and created an atmosphere of terror, unsecure, outlawed to vote for CPI(M) as slaves.

TMC rule was little inclined towards the Rule of law and democratic values limited to freedom of speech and criticism of the government but not without appeasement of Muslims to create a secular image which conflicted with extremist Hindutva organisations and political parties like BJP, RSS ( Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh). Many incidents of violence took place where TMC workers were killed by BJP workers and vice versa. Still there are questions regarding impartiality of the government and the rule of law that even if TMC was in power but why couldn’t it stop violence and maintain law and order in the state?


We can conclude that the primary reason of distancing Bengal from rule of law is mainly Political Violence but not communal violence as in other states of the country till 2018. As compare to other states of India, people of Bengal have reached to the extreme level of awareness with respect to politics. They have a positive awareness that they support different political parties by independent thinking as we saw in recent election that a shift of voters of CPI(M) to the BJP. A negative awareness is that they hate or like people on the basis of which they belong to political party and become victims of violence. The Bengal is the land is of revolutions since the beginning of freedom struggle of India. But this revolutionary nature of the people is being misused for violence and destruction of the land and people of it. The way to restore the rule of law is that if this revolutionary spirit of the people is used in a lawful manner for the constructive work for the development of the state and improvement of living standard of people. Politics is one of the factors in our life which help to exercise political rights and to select the ruler for them, but there are many factors in the states which people must do themselves without depending on the government.


  1. Chhavi Agarwal, Rule of Law: A Reflection Upon We, the People and Beyond, Legal Service India.com,


  2. Anirban Ganguly, Five Massacres That Every Indian Communist Must Be Reminded Of, Swarajya, Aug.12,2015,2.32 pm IST, https://swarajyamag.com/politics/communist-violence-in-west-bengal.
  3. IPC,1860, §.45, §46, §141, §144, §146, §148
  4. Monobina Gupta, While Bengal is in Turmoil, Men Explain Marxism to Me, The Wire, Jun.10,2019,https://thewire.in/politics/west-bengal-tmc-bjp-cpim.
  5. Supra note 2.
  6. Abheek Barman, Left rules West Bengal for 34 years and ruins the state, May,17, 2011, 11.31 am IST.https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/opinion/et-commentary/left-rules-west-bengal-for-34-years-and-ruins-


  7. PTI, Mamata ends 34-years-Left Front rule in Bengal, Kolkata, May 13, 2011,https://www.thehindubusinessline.com/economy/policy/mamata-ends-34-year-old-left-front-rule-in-bengal


  8. Swaminathan S. Anklesaria Aiyar Despite Modi, India Has Not Yet Become a Hindu Authoritarian StateCato Institute (2020) https://www.jstor.org/stable/resrep28731
  9. Sandeep Ghosh,Why Bengal can Vote for BJP, Even though Mamata Banerjee is still Invincible, Jan.22, 2021,11.37 am IST, https://theprint.in/opinion/why-bengal-can-vote-for-bjp-even-though-mamata-banerjee-is-


  10. ANI, No rule of law in Bengal, Democracy being Hurt, Dec.17, 2020,http://www.businessworld.in/article/No-rule-of-law-in-Bengal-democracy-being-hurt-says-Jagdeep-Dhankhar


  11. Rajani Ranjan Jha & Bhavana Mishra, Centre-State Relations,1980-1990: The Experience of West Bengal, The Indian Journal of Political Science, Apri.-Jun., 1993, Vol. 54, No. 2,Publ. Indian Political Science Association, https://www.jstor.org/stable/41855651
  12. Supra note 6.
  13. Ibid.

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