Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee on Friday stepped down as West Bengal chief minister following the Left Front's drubbing in the Assembly election at the hands of the Trinamool Congress-Congress combine that saw the collapse of the 34-year-old red bastion.

Mr. Bhattacharjee’s resignation brought to an end the longest Communist rule in India since 1977.

Mr. Bhattcharjee himself trailed much behind Manish Gupta, State’s former chief Secretary, in his Jadavpur constituency.

The 66-year-old CPI(M) politburo member, who faced the toughest electoral battle in his political career, succumbed to the ‘strong winds of change’ and failed to steer the Front to victory for the eighth time in a row in West Bengal.

Known to live a spartan life, the dhoti-kurta clad Bengali ‘Bhadralok’ with a clean image, Mr. Bhattacharjee, a connoisseur of art and music, never moved out of his two-room government flat on Palm Avenue in south Kolkata during his tenure as chief minister.

Mr. Bhattacharjee took over from his mentor Jyoti Basu when the latter finally decided to step down as the country’s longest serving chief minister on health grounds in November 2000, ahead of the assembly elections in 2001 and led the LF to victory. In 1999, he was deputy chief minister of the State.