Authoritarianism in West Bengal: Is Mamata Banerjee to Blame?

The Discussion Map charts important debates from the pages of E​PW.


On May 10, 2019, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) youth leader Priyanka Sharma was arrested by the West Bengal police for posting a meme of Mamata Banerjee on social media. Despite a Supreme Court order for Sharma’s immediate release on bail, the West Bengal police kept her in jail overnight, and later closed the case, terming it a “mistake of fact.”

Ishita Mukhopadhyay’s 2012 article “Moving towards Semi-fascism in West Bengal” argues that since coming to power in West Bengal, Mamata Banerjee has turned authoritarian, and has even displayed semi-fascist behaviour. Mukhopadhyay writes that Banerjee has used her position to crush all opposition, especially the left. 

Subhasis Bandhopadhyay responds to Mukhopadhyay, arguing that Bengal is not capable of giving rise to a semi-fascist regime. Sukumar Mukhopadhyay also contributes to the discussion, and criticises Ishita for blaming Banerjee. He argues that Ishita completely fails to acknowledge the fascist nature of the previous left government. 

Sujay Ghosh joins this debate and while acknowledging authoritarian trends in West Bengal, also provides examples of the All India Trinamool Congress’ successes under Banerjee.

A few other works that are broadly related to this discussion:

  1. Why Support Mamata?, Sumanta Banerjee, 2010
  2. West Bengal Elections: Myopic Popular Verdict in a Political Vacuum, Sumanta Banerjee, 2016
  3. Nothing Succeeds Like Success in West Bengal, Rajat Roy, 2016


Ed: To contribute to a more comprehensive discussion map, please share links to other relevant articles in the comments section or write to us at with the subject line—"Democracy and Authoritarianism."

Curated by Supriya Ravishankar [] and Kieran Lobo []

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