Buddhadeb Bhattacharya is an Indian politician who is also a littérateur, scholiast, columnist, poet, and orator. In 2002, he was appointed as a member of the Polit Bureau, Communist Party of India (Marxist), and he held the position till 2015. Buddhadeb Bhattacharya became the chief minister of West Bengal in 2000. For consecutive twenty-four years, Buddhadeb was elected as a member of the legislative assembly from the Jadavpur constituency of West Bengal. He lost the general elections of West Bengal from 16,684 votes in 2011 from the former chief secretary of his own cabinet, Manish Gupta, who joined Trinamool Congress. When he was the chief minister of West Bengal, he finalized a deal with Tata Motors to set up the cheapest Nano Car manufacturing plant in West Bengal, and it was his first initiative to industrialize the state. Soon after the announcement, the opposition parties in West Bengal including Trinamool Congress, Socialist Unity Centre of India, and Indian National Congress strongly opposed his decisions along with several social activists and campaigners that stopped the project. The famous movements such as the land acquisition dispute in Singur, the Nandigram incident, and the Netai incident that took place in West Bengal happened during his ministry.
Buddhadeb Bhattacharya was born on Wednesday, 1 March 1944 (age 77 years; as of 2021) in Calcutta, Bengal Presidency, British India. His zodiac sign is Pisces. Buddhadeb Bhattacharya completed his school studies at Sailendra Sarkar Vidyalaya, Kolkata, West Bengal. In 1964, he earned a BA Honours degree in Bengali from Presidency College, Bengaluru.
Hair Colour: Grey
Eye Colour: Black
Parents & Siblings
His father’s name is Nepal Chandru Bhattacharjee.
Wife & Children
Buddhadeb Bhattacharya is married to Meera Bhattacharya, and the couple has a daughter named Suchetana Bhattacharya.
59-A, Palam Avenue, Government Quarters, Kolkata.
According to Buddhadeb Bhattacharya, he did not follow any religion as he is an atheist. In a conversation with a media house in 1997, he stated that he only followed the ideologies of communists and further added his viewpoints on religion. He said,
I am a Communist and an atheist. But if I am to visit a temple, I would take off my shoes in deference to others’ sentiments.”
Buddhadeb Bhattacharya started his political career in 1966 when he joined CPIM. He extensively supported Vietnam’s cause in 1968, and during the same time, he was a supporter of the food movement in West Bengal. In 1968, he began working as the Secretary of the West Bengal State Committee of the Democratic Youth Federation.
Member of the Legislative Assembly
On the ticket of the CPIM, in 1977, he was chosen as a Member of the Legislative Assembly from the Cossipore (now Kashipur) constituency in north Kolkata. In this year, the communist Jyoti Basu was the chief minister of West Bengal. Prafulla Kanti Ghosh, who was a leader of the Indian National Congress, in 1982, defeated Buddhadeb Bhattacharya in the legislative assembly elections from the Cossipore constituency of Wst Bengal. In 1982, Buddhadeb Bhattacharya was elected as a member secretariat of the CPIM, and in the same year, he actively represented his party along with his party member Promode Dasgupta. He was elevated to the position of Permanent Invitee to Central Committee in 1984. In 1987, he was elected as a member of the legislative assembly from the Jadavpur constituency of West Bengal. He was given the portfolio of information and culture in the cabinet, and he held the position till 1996. He extensively endorsed Bengali theatre, movies, and music during his tenure as a minister of information and culture by making huge contributions. He was a minister in the home ministry between 1996 to 1999.
Chief Minister of West Bengal
On 6 November 2000, Buddhadeb Bhattacharya was chosen as the eighth chief minister of West Bengal. He was appointed as the second deputy chief minister of West Bengal in 2000 and served the position till 2001. He was appointed as the Minister of Land and Land Revenue in the West Bengal cabinet in 2000, and he held the position till 2011. Buddhadeb Bhattacharya was keen to transform West Bengal into an industrialized state to increase employment opportunities. He advocated the slogan ”do it now” in the IT field, which consequently resulted in a 70 per cent growth from 2001 to 2005 in West Bengal. In a media conference, Buddhadeb Bhattacharya stated that his ministry was applying the policies of capitalism and not socialism in the state to increase employment and growth opportunities. He said,
According to classical Marxism, there is a fundamental feud between capital and labour. But here we are practising policies of capitalism, not socialism. We do not want to raise slogans like ‘ladai ladai ladai chai’ (we will have to fight) and close down factories.”
Salt Lake City Land Allotments
Buddhadeb Bhattacharya, along with his other Left Front ministers, were issued a legal notice by the Supreme Court of India in January 2006 for their involvement in the illegal land allotments made in Salt Lake City in Kolkata. He was also charged for taking police actions against the protesters in Nandigram in East Midnapore. The opposition parties in West Bengal such as Trinamool Congress, Party of Democratic Socialism, Bharatiya Janata Party, Communist Party of India (Marxist–Leninist) Liberation, Communist Revolutionary League of India, Communist Party of India, Revolutionary Socialist Party (India) and Forward Bloc also blamed his authoritative ruling. His mentor and former chief minister of West Bengal also condemned his brutal actions on the protesters. Jyoti Basu, in a press meeting, on 15 March 2007, stated that the police openly shot to scare the innocent protesters and the situation was not controlled by Buddhadeb Bhattacharya. Soon, Buddhadeb regretted and said that he did not take timely actions in the Nandigram incident, and he added that the protests in Nandigram forced several local villagers to leave their homes and this reason encouraged him to take police action against the protesters. He said,
area where there had been no rule of law and no presence of an administration for not one, two or 10 days but for two-and-a-half months, and many hundreds of villagers left Nandigram, and took shelter in a state relief camp outside Nandigram.”
Buddhadeb Bhattacharya invited various lucrative foreign and national capital investments in West Bengal during his tenure as a chief minister of West Bengal. He had the vision to industrialize the state to enhance employment opportunities, but, the roots of West Bengal were fixed to the agricultural income. He initiated various deals to set up factories and industries in the state such as the Tata Nano car project was initially decided to set up in Singur in Kolkata. The integrated steel plant in Salboni, West Midnapore district by Jindal group, and a chemical hub at Nayachar were the other three industrial projects to whom Buddhadeb Bhattacharya had shown a green flag. However, due to the protests against the industrial projects that might affect the lands, homes, and environment of the local villagers, the Nano project shifted to Gujarat in 2008. Eventually, Buddhadeb and his party lost the industrial plans as well as the Lok Sabha elections of 2009. The CPIM was defeated by the Trinamool Congress in West Bengal in 2011. Buddhadeb Bhattacharya was defeated in the general legislative elections by his opponent Manish Gupta with a heavy margin of votes. Mamata Banerjee became the chief minister of West Bengal in 2011. The Politburo and Central Committee discharged him as a member in 2015.
Buddhadeb Bhattacharya published a book titled Nazi Germany r Jonmo O Mrityu (transl. The Rise and Fall of Nazi Germany) in 2020. Apart from being a great politician, he is an avid writer. Several books and poems including Chena Phooler Gondho (The Fragrance Of The Known Flowers) are composed by him. The writings of Gabriel Garcia Marquez, who was a noble prize winner, were also translated by him in Bengali.
In January 2022, Buddhadeb Bhattacharya attracted controversy when he refused to accept the Padma Bhushan award which was to be conferred to him by the government of India on the eve of Republic Day. Soon after declining the award, he stated in media that he was not informed about the award, and if it was conferred to him then he would have declined it. He said,
I don’t know anything about Padma Bhushan award, nobody told me about it. If I have been awarded the Padma Bhushan, I refused to accept it.”
The official statement from the home ministry of India stated soon after Buddhadeb’s statement that they called him on the landline and his wife was informed about the award. They said,
She was informed about the award. There was a full day between the call and the announcement but we didn’t hear anything.”
The CPIM official Twitter account posted in favour of their former leader soon after the controversy was initiated against Buddhadeb Bhattacharya in media. They wrote that the work of the CPIM party leaders was for the people, not for the appreciation and awards. They wrote,
Com. Buddhadeb Bhattacharya who was nominated for the Padma Bhushan award has declined to accept it. The CPI(M) policy has been consistent in declining such awards from the State. Our work is for the people not for awards. Com EMS who was earlier offered an award had declined it.”
Com. Buddhadeb Bhattacharya who was nominated for the Padma Bhushan award has declined to accept it. The CPI(M) policy has been consistent in declining such awards from the State. Our work is for the people not for awards. Com EMS who was earlier offered an award had declined it. pic.twitter.com/fTmkkzeABl
— CPI (M) (@cpimspeak) January 25, 2022
- Cash: Rs. 3,550
- Deposits in Banks: Rs. 6,62,828
- Bonds, Debentures and Shares: Rs. 10,900
- NSS, Postal Savings: Rs. 2,65,000
- Jewellery: Rs. 6,00,116
As of 2006, Buddhadeb Bhattacharya has a net worth of Rs. 15,42,394.
- He also goes by the name Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee.
- In 1991, when Jyoti Basu was the chief minister of West Bengal, Buddhadeb Bhattacharya resigned from the CPIM after criticising the internal affairs and workings of the party. However, no exact official information was revealed by the party that could justify his quit. The news rumours pointed out that the reason behind his exit was the offensive behaviour of Basu towards Battacharya and his work in the cabinet. The dispute took six months to get resolved, and Buddhadeb came back into the cabinet again.
- The great Indian revolutionary poet of India, Sukanta Bhattacharya, was Buddhadeb Bhattacharya’s uncle. Buddhadeb had an ancestral home in Bangladesh.
- Azim Premji, the chairman of Wipro, once appreciated the works of Buddhadeb Bhattacharya and stated that Buddhadeb was the best chief minister in India. The former Finance Director of Infosys, T.V. Mohandas Pai, once praised and admired Buddhadeb’s dedication to his state affairs. He said,
India’s renaissance in the 21st century will come from Calcutta like it did in the 19th century.”
- According to Buddhadeb Bhattacharya, the UPA government failed to execute land reform policies in the agriculture sector, which was very important for the development of India. In a conversation with a media house, in 2006, he stated that the Gandhian philosophy was never followed by him, and he believed that capitalism could not be the last resort in human history. He further added that he was a Marxist.
- Buddhadeb Bhattacharya was suffering from acute exacerbation of his respiratory problems, and in December 2021, he was treated in the Woodlands hospital in West Bengal for the same. In the same year, Buddhadeb Bhattacharya caught the COVID-19.
- In September 2021, the cousin sister-in-law of Buddhadeb Bhattacharya, Ira Basu, was spotted lying on the footpaths of the streets of Dunlop in the Barabazar area of the North 24 Paraganas district of West Bengal. Reportedly, she used to teach for more than thirty years at Priyanath Girls High School and is a PhD degree holder. She was well versed in Bengali and English languages.
- Buddhadeb Bhattacharya loved playing and watching cricket when he was young. He was often spotted handling cricket bats whenever he got the chance to play during his sports meet visits as a guest in his state. Buddhadeb Bhattacharya adored travelling to China, the Soviet Union, Cuba, Vietnam, Great Britain, and France when he was young and able.
- The song compositions of Rabindranath Tagore are liked by Buddhadeb Bhattacharya.
- Soon after completing his college education, Buddhadeb Bhattacharya used to teach in a higher secondary school in Kolkata, West Bengal which is named Dum Dum Adarsh Vidya Mandir.
- Buddhadeb Bhattacharya used to work from his two-room apartment at 59-A, Palam Avenue, Government Quarters, Calcutta after he became the eighth Chief Minister of West Bengal. He did not shift to the luxurious bungalow that was conferred to the chief minister. Even, Buddhadeb Bhattacharya did not accept any police security from the government when he was an elite official. Buddhadeb Bhattacharya had a very reserved personality, who was hardly seen walking in the society by his neighbours.