The very first time I set foot in India was at Calcutta airport, back in 1992. I was making a radio documentary about the staying power of West Bengal's communists - you can hear it elsewhere on this site. Back then, Jyoti Basu's CPI(M) has been in power for fifteen unbroken years.
Fast forward another eighteen years to the present, and the Communists still govern West Bengal. Jyoti Basu, who at one stage came within a whisker of becoming India's Prime Minister, is now dead. But his party marches on.
Not for much longer, according to Jason Burke in today's Observer. He reports that the party is being outflanked by a populist split from Congress led by Mamata Banerjee - who I met on that first trip to Calcutta all those years ago. The party's epitaph has been written many times and they have proved remarkably resilient - but this time, the pendulum seems to be swinging away from Alimuddin Street (the CPI(M) headquarters).
Whatever, that first trip to India instilled in me a huge affection for Calcutta, which remains undimmed. A wonderful city with fantastic architecture and a vibrant culture.
Andrew Whitehead's blog
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