1987 West Bengal Legislative Assembly election

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1987 West Bengal Legislative Assembly election

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All 294 seats in the West Bengal Legislative Assembly
148 seats needed for a majority
  First party Second party
  Jyoti Basu - Calcutta 1996-12-21 089 Cropped.png
Leader Jyoti Basu Siddhartha Shankar Ray
Party CPI (M) INC
Alliance LF Congress+
Leader's seat Satgachhia None
Seats won 187 40
Seat change Increase13 Decrease9
Popular vote 10,327,984 10,989,520
Percentage 39.30% 41.81%
Swing Increase0.89% Increase6.08%

Chief Minister before election

Jyoti Basu

Chief Minister

Jyoti Basu

Legislative Assembly elections were held in the Indian state of West Bengal in 1987. The election was mainly a clash between the Left Front led by Chief Minister Jyoti Basu and the Indian National Congress(I) led by Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi. The former held the state government and the latter the national government. The election was won by the Left Front, for the third time in a row.


Left Front

The governing Left Front denied tickets to 62 sitting legislators.[1] In many cases CPI(M), the dominant force in the Left Front, was seeking to rejuvenate the legislature and fielded 35 student leaders as new candidates.[1]

The star campaigner of the Left Front was Chief Minister Jyoti Basu of CPI(M), who had pledged to visit all constituencies where CPI(M) had fielded candidates.[1] During the campaign Basu claimed that the Delhi government discriminated against West Bengal in allocation of resources.[1]


'Natun Bangla' ('New Bengal') was the key slogan of the Congress(I) campaign.[1] The star campaigner of Congress(I) was Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi, who was flown in from Delhi and toured the state.[1][2] At the time Gandhi enjoyed significant popularity, especially amongst urban upper-middle class sectors.[2] Gandhi was accompanied by West Bengal Congress(I) chief Priya Ranjan Dasmunsi on the campaign trail.[1] Striking a populist tone, Gandhi promised development in West Bengal and to create a million new jobs.[1]

The Congress(I) campaign, whilst being boosted by Gandhi, suffered from internal dissent in party ranks.[1] Congress(I) heavy-weights Subrata Mukherjee and Soumen Mitra led a revolt against the party leadership.[1] And Pranab Mukherjee had floated his Rashtriya Samajbadi Congress, breaking away from Congress(I).[1]

Gorkhaland issue

Whilst an accord had been struck between Gandhi and Gorkha National Liberation Front leader Subhash Ghisingh ahead of the polls, violence escalated in the Darjeeling hills.[1] In the run-up to the polls, several policemen were killed in the area.[1]


The Left Front won 251 out of 294 seats. It obtained 13,918,403 votes (52.96% of the statewide vote).[3]

Party Candidates Seats Votes %
Left Front Communist Party of India (Marxist) 212 187 10,285,723 39.12
All India Forward Bloc 34 26 1,534,795 5.84
Revolutionary Socialist Party 23 18 1,036,138 3.94
Communist Party of India 12 11 503,854 1.92
Revolutionary Communist Party of India 3 1 118,985 0.42
Marxist Forward Bloc 2 2 107,732 0.41
Biplobi Bangla Congress 1 0 42,261 0.16
West Bengal Socialist Party and
Democratic Socialist Party (Prabodh Chandra)
7 6 288,915 1.10
Indian National Congress (I) 294 40 10,989,520 41.81
Socialist Unity Centre of India 46 2 237,674 0.90
Indian Union Muslim League 36 1 162,850 0.62
Bharatiya Janata Party 57 0 134,867 0.51
Janata Party 30 0 41,475 0.16
Lok Dal 18 0 10,032 0.04
Indian Congress (Socialist-Sarat Chandra Sinha) 4 0 3,335 0.01
Independents 718 0 784,937 2.99
Total 1,497 294 26,283,093 100
Source: Election Commission of India


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m India Today. West Bengal: Basu vs Gandhi
  2. ^ a b Sumantra Bose (16 September 2013). Transforming India. Harvard University Press. p. 138. ISBN 978-0-674-72819-6.

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