SINGUR: Union Home Minister Amit Shah held a colourful roadshow here on Wednesday, once a hot spot of the anti-land acquisition movement, and promised rapid industrialisation of the area if BJP is voted to power.
The symbolism of the home minister holding a roadshow in Singur, three days after Prime Minister Narendra Modi held a rally there and alleged the "obstructionist mindset" of Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee deprived West Bengal of industries and jobs, was clear--the BJP wants to corner her over the state's dwindling industrial base and alleged job loss.
Lustily cheered by crowds, Shah stood atop a decorated vehicle with BJP candidate for the Singur seat Rabindranath Bhattacharya, who recently joined the saffron party after leaving the Trinamool Congress, and smilingly waved at people standing by the roadside and on terraces and balconies.
Speaking to reporters during the show, Shah said Singur, which has been shunned by industry since the 2006 agitation, will be developed by the next BJP government in the state.
"We will develop the area by setting up industries and a Rs 500 crore intervention fund has been announced for potatoes, for which the area is known, in our Sankalp Patra (manifesto)," he said.
Shah said, after winning the elections, the BJP government will ensure that small, medium and large industries are set up in Singur, situated beside the national highway connecting Kolkata and New Delhi.
"We will pursue politics of development, dialogue and cooperation, instead of confrontation," he said.
He said he welcomed TMC supremo Mamata Banerjee for invoking Hindu Gods and Goddesses, and for reciting Chandi Path (hymns to Goddess Durga) at public meetings, but quipped it was "too late for her".
"The BJP will win Bengal elections with more than 200 seats in the kitty," he said.
West Bengal has 294 assembly seats.
Banerjee, often accused by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and other BJP leaders of minority appeasement, has been regularly chanting hymns and asserting her Hindu identity to keep the majority community in good humour.
The roadshow meandered through the roads of Singur town for nearly an hour from Dulepara more to Singur police station, as colourful posters, BJP flags and green and saffron balloons dotted route.
Chants of 'Jai Shri Ram' and slogans demanding industrialisation and jobs pervaded the air as the procession crawled through streets.
Donning a saffron-coloured turban, the 89-year-old Bhattacharya, a four-time TMC MLA from Singur before he left the party on being denied a ticket, waved at the crowd standing alongside Shah.
Bhattacharya's induction and nomination had caused a lot of resentment among BJP old-timers in Singur.
Shah is scheduled to hold three more roadshows in the state, including one in Kolkata, on Wednesday.
Referring to the Singur movement of 2006-08 that forced Tata Motors to move out its proposed small car Nano's mother production unit from there, Modi had told an election meeting that the TMC used the place for political purpose and then left the people to fend for themselves.
Singur, a small town in Hooghly district, has an old connection between Banerjee and Modi.
The scene of an aggressive movement led by Banerjee against forcible land acquisition by the then Left Front government for the 'Nano' project, Singur, along with Nandigram, had catapulted the street fighter TMC leader to power in West Bengal in 2011.
The sustained, and often violent, protests by the local farming community led by Banerjee forced the Tatas to move out of Singur.
A cryptic 'Suswagatam' SMS from Modi, then the Gujarat chief minister, to Ratan Tata, the group chairman, is said to have clinched the deal in Gujarat's favour and led to the relocation of the project to Sanand near Ahmedabad.
Many considered it as West Bengal's loss and Gujarat's gain.