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Politics of West Bengal

Before independence, West Bengal was the part of undivided Bengal, but after partition, Bengal was demarcated into West Bengal, which became an integral part of India, and East Pakistan, which became a part of the then newly formed country of Pakistan. In 1971, the Bengali-dominated East Pakistan declared independence with India's active support, and went on to become a separate sovereign nation of Bangladesh.

As a state of secular India, West Bengal is governed through a parliamentary system with Calcutta, now known as Kolkata, as its capital city. Kolkata is the third largest city of India. This feature of parliamentary system of governance is shared by other states of the country. There are three branches of government, namely the legislature, executive and judiciary. Legislature consists of elected members of the West Bengal legislative assembly or Vidhan Sabha and the special office bearers such as the Speaker and the Deputy Speaker of the assembly. These special office bearers are also elected by the members of the legislative assembly. West Bengal has a unicameral legislature, comprising 295 MLAs. The state's judiciary comprises the Calcutta High Court and the lower courts.

With the Chief Minister and his council of ministers wrest the major executive authority. Chief Minister is the leader of the party or of the coalition with a majority in the legislative assembly. The Governor is appointed by the President of India, and is the titular head of the state. The present Chief Minister of West Bengal is Buddhadeb Bhattacharya of the CPI(M) party. The state also has the legacy of facing the burnt of Naxalite extremism in the late sixties and the early seventies. Overall, the politics of West Bengal attracts active participation from its people.

In fact, West Bengal has witnessed the rule of the Left Front coalition for the past 30 years. The Left Front has been in the power in West Bengal for the past 30 years, making it the world's longest running socialist government that has been democratically elected into power. Other parties having important roles in the regional politics of West Bengal are the All India Trinamool Congress, and the Indian National Congress.

There are 19 districts in West Bengal, each governed by a district collector or district magistrate. Again, every district is sub-divided into sub-divisions, which are governed by the sub-divisional magistrate. Each sub-division is again divided into blocks, which consist of panchayats, which are village councils, and town municipalities.

Last Updated On: 2011/07/12

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