The Political Economy of Decline of Industry in West Bengal: Experiences of a Marxist State Within a Mixed Economy
Over more than six decades following Independence, industry in West Bengal has steadily gone downhill. Usually the Left Front government effectively controlled by the Marxist Communist Party (CPM), that has ruled the state for the past 34 years until its recent defeat in the state assembly elections, is held responsible for the plight of industry in the state. The party and its followers, on the other hand, blame denial of the due share of the state in the central resources by a hostile government at the center for industrial retardation. This paper takes a close look at the available statistical evidence to argue that the main reason for the decline is a direct outcome of poor work culture, political interference, and failure of governance that has resulted in industrial anarchy that scares off private investment in the state. While the Left Front has its share of responsibility, the newly anointed Chief Minister of the State, Mamata Banerjee, has herself contributed generously to fostering and cultivating this chaos by calling wildcat general strikes in her erstwhile role as the ‘one person opposition party’. The only thing that can revive industry in West Bengal is liberating civil administration from the grip of political party bosses.
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