Jyoti Basu called it quits in September 2000. This brought Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee to the scene. At that time, he was CPI(M)'s poster boy. Everybody was convinced that a change was in the offing. People believed that he would end red-tapism and the character of arrogant CPI(M) cadres. But nothing happened. Eleven years later, he got reduced to a tragic hero when he lost to Manish Gupta, his first home secretary, by 16,770 votes.
Buddhadeb’s career has been spotless. He kept his feet firmly on the ground even at the cost of being tagged “impractical” and “arrogant.” He always used his head, not communist dogmas, to judge reality.
The protégé of legendary Marxist Pramod Dasgupta survived many crises, including an exile from politics following strong differences with Jyoti Basu in August 1993.
But Bhattacharjee could not survive Singur, Nandigram and the fallout of his own judgements. People of Jadavpur, who elected him in 2006 by a whopping majority, literally dragged him through humiliation and agony.
“One who can’t even handle a non-venomous snake should not have touched a cobra”, former land reforms minister Abdur Rezzak Molla Molla told journalists in a non-discreet reference to Buddhadeb’s land acquisition methods. Molla emerged victorious from Canning East in the same district.
“He was not alone. Nobody thought about the poor. The result is here for everybody to see,” he said.