Singur turf war gathers momentum
The Calcutta High Court ruling annulling the Singur Land Rehabilitation and Development Act, 2011, has put a spanner in the efforts of the Trinamool Congress to appease farmers and caused much heartburn to party chief and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee.
It is not just the TMC that is trying to exploit the farmers’ cause. With an eye on the next year’s panchayat polls, all political parties are meticulously planning people’s movements in Singur.
Returning of 400 acres of land to the farmers who had unwillingly given it up for the Tata’s small car project was one of the first decisions taken by the TMC-led Government after it came to power. But, all hopes were shattered when the court ruled the Singur Act as “unconstitutional and void”.
Almost 4,000 farmers, who were keenly looking forward to reclaim their land, were equally disappointed. But Mamata did try to ‘cheer’ them up. A few days after the High Court ruling, she doubled the monthly dole given to Singur farmers to `2,000. They were also offered rice at `2 per kg.
Realising that these incentives were not just enough to quell the bitterness, Mamata directed Becharam Manna, Singur MLA and convenor of Singur Krishi Jami Bachao Committee, to launch a “people’s struggle” in Singur. While the protests will not be directed against the state government, Manna’s job is to ensure that the anger against the administration does not spill out.
“We need to garner support against the High Court decision. First, we must ensure that the `2,000 stipend and subsidised rice reached the people. Later, a massive stir targeting conspirators, including the CPM and Tata Motors, will be launched,” Manna told Express.
Manna is already on the job, meeting peasants and appeasing them. “The farmers are disappointed, but they still have faith in the Chief Minister,” he said.
On the other hand, West Bengal Pradesh Congress Committee (WBPCC) has come out against Mamata. They took out a rally in Singur on Saturday and criticised Didi. “The TMC’s people’s struggle will perpetuate and accentuate not only the agony of Singur farmers, but also cast a negative spell on whatever little prospect of industrialisation that West Bengal has,” said Om Prakash Mishra, WBPCC General Secretary.
Manna, however, is on damage control mode. The Left parties also plan similar agitations. While the TMC does not want to lose its farmer votebank, the CPM wants to regain lost trust.
“Our leaders at the local level as well as farmers’ organisations, including the West Bengal Pradeshik Krishak Sabha, are taking the issue forward. Meetings are being held in Singur,” said a CPM leader.
While the CPM is dithering on launching a massive protest, veteran CPM leader and former Land Minister Abdur Rezzak Mollah has taken a leaf from the Occupy Wall Street movement. He would launch Occupy Singur movement from July 3 to give a voice to the farmers.
“I have invited the Left and democratic forces, including the CPI(ML), to join hands. We demand that either the farmers be allowed to cultivate their land on the site or be provided with alternative land,” Mollah said.
On the CPM’s indecisiveness to launch a massive stir, Mollah said: “This is a golden opportunity for the CPM to stand beside the farmers, but they are squandering it.”
Keen on making inroads into rural Bengal, the BJP is likely to hold a public meet. “A women’s delegation, led by State Vice-President Gauri Chowdhury, will visit Singur on July 3,” said BJP state president Rahul Sinha.
The Mazdoor Kranti Parishad and Socialist Unity Centre of India have also called for agitations. With all parties going Singur, Bengal will see a melee of stirs over the next few weeks.