Basu's crucial error was his compromise with parochialism in order to sustain his vote base when his economic policies had exhausted their ability to deliver. This retreat was symbolised by his ban on the study of English at primary school level in 1982. He advertised this as a triumph for the mother tongue. It was nothing of the kind. It was a retreat into the narrow mind of regionalism by a party that had lost its imagination. Unable to create jobs, it sought to cynically exploit a barren emotionalism. By the time the decision was reversed in 1999, half a generation from the lower middle class and poor-or, those who needed English most for upward mobility-had fallen behind. Basu's own grandchildren went to La Martiniere, of course.M J Akbar in India Today. More Here
This ban came during precisely those years when the young began to recognise that English had become the language of aspiration in India; it was no longer "foreign". Modern jobs demanded, increasingly, English language skills. English, once guardian of colonial rule and its fauxaccented servants, has, today, been assimilated to such an extent that it is part of Bollywood's "Hindi" lyrics. The unique aspect of the "item number" Sheila ki jawaani is not that Sheila isn't going to give you her body (there was not much chance of getting it anyway), but that more than half the song is in English. Bengal's young paid a silent price so the CPI(M) could remain in power.
The second swivel-mistake was soft-secularism, the unspoken Leftist assumption that Bengal's Muslims- who constitute over 30 per cent of the state's effective vote- could be taken for granted if you protected their life without ensuring their livelihood. Muslims bought this shoddy deal for a long while, until the Sachar Commission report laid out facts of their unemployment levels in government jobs. Mamata Banerjee is the face of Muslim revenge. The Left bastion could not survive the collapse of its strongest pillar.
The Left ruled longer than it deserved to because cadres filled the chasm created by vanishing ideas and ideology. It was as if by the 1990s the CPI(M) had pawned its intellect, and begun feeding off diminishing returns. By 2000 it was dining off alibis. And yet the gold dust of electoral success persuaded them that power was eternal.
Mamata Banerjee has proved that even in Bengal power is terminal.