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Then and Now…

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I was never in faovour of taking away farmlands to build industry. I still am not. However, the situation in Singur is not so cut and dried as Mamata may want to make it seem. A few days back, around the 28th of August or so, a friend of mine was in Lindsay Street in Blue Print (a medicine shop). There he was witness to a curioius exchange. The salespersons in the shop were talking to a man who was from Singur. They asked him what he was up to. He answered that he had been sitting with Didi to get his land back. The salespersons, perplexed, asked him if he hadn’t already been compensated for his land. He replied that he had indeed received the money, and now he would get his land back as well.

I wish the CM would think of reopening the many factories rotting away in weed and rust in Dum Dum instead of taking away farmlands. I wish he would focus on what we already have in abundance and turn it into a resource. I really wish people would see that industrialization is not the only inevitable path to salvation for West Bengal, especially when it is achieved at the expense of extensive streaches of extremely fertile farmland. I see only a kind of sorry desperation in jumping at the Tata’s offer by providing them with land wherever they (presumably) wanted. The Nano, in my opinion, would only add to the ever increasing congestion in the already overcrowded Kolkata roads. More than once and on various occasions car pools have suggested as a way out. It escapes me why in such a situation the Nano should shine as such a brilliant ray of hope for us. Driving ethics are a thing of the past, and no one realizes it more than us, who drive two wheelers. Anyone can buy a car on hire purchase these days, and there is simply no class left among those that wheeze along in those shiny boxes leaving us at the mercy of fate and their own moods. But I am digressing.

Question is whether Mamata is doing something selfless and at the request of the ‘victims’. Question, indeed, is whether there are victims that actually conform to Mamata’s definition of the term. I received something from a confidential source which I believe is reliable. It is reliable insofar as a Party Manifesto is reliable. However, the author of this piece belongs to the old guard, to the era when Communist Party members were educated and with morals and scruples. Unbelievable as it may seem, there still are a few of them still hanging on. I have double checked the facts and have found them authentic enough to publish in my own blog. I couldn’t care less if people call me names. It is after all fashionable to be anti CP(I)M these days. And never mind if Mamata has created a inexplicable figure of 400 acres. Has she actually provided anyone with an alternative rehabilitaion plan apart from her demand about the land return?

The relevant statistics against the 400 acre demands are:

the Government has acquired 997.11 acres of land in Singur. There are 10, 852 raiyats (cultivators) on the land parcel taken over. Of them, 8, 890 covering land area of 691. 64 acres have accepted the compensation package. 2251 have refused to accept compensation for a total area of 305.47 acres of land. Mamata has conveniently rounded that off to 400 acres.

The following are a) a letter from the CM to Mamata, which, as far as I know, she did not release to the Press ( I could be wrong: I am at present trying to deal with both local small time chameleon CPIM covert operators as well as a sub-inspector who ought to be stripped both of his skin and uniform) and b) a report on the curent situation at Singur with respect to Didi’s dharna.

a) Letter of the CM to Mamata:

DO No.  – 97/CM

25 August 2008

Respected,

Earlier we have discussed the problems arising out of the small car manufacturing factory at Singur with representatives sent by you, following my appeal.  We decided then at that meeting that there would be continued discussions towards a just and proper resolve of the impasse.

You are already aware that in view of Shri Ratan Tata’s statement on the issue, different state governments have called for the project to be shifted to their respective states.  You will surely realise from all this how important it is for the state to complete the project early.  Surely as a responsible leader of the opposition of the state, you would desire that the project should be completed in this state.

In view of this, keeping the project completely unaffected, acting within the legal framework of the land, and safeguarding the interests of the landless families affected adversely by the land acquisition, I would like to have a direct discussion with you to find out a formula that will be acceptable to all.

I hope that in the interest of the quick implementation and completion of the project and to ensure that the reflection of our state’s image remains untarnished, you would withdraw your present movement and agree to sit for a discussion again.

With best wishes,

(Signed)

Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee

b) current report on Singur situation:

AN ISOLATED TRINAMUL CONGRESS PONDERS THE NEXT MOVE

The sit-in demonstration suddenly started to draw less men and women– discontented kisans or otherwise.  That happened on and from 2 September.  The reasons were clear for everyone to see.  Certainly, we had little trouble doing this.

An increasing number of the local populace, including the Trinamulis’ vaunted ‘disgruntled kisans,’ and all of them angry, hateful, and aggressively abusive of the Trinamuli chieftain and her Maoists-SUCI-Indira Congress cohorts – had started to organise a huge periphery, and densely peopled, as part of  what we can call a ‘counter-blockade’ around the Trinamuli blockade of the highway.

‘We shall not anyone of the gang that is out to bring an economic disaster to our state run away from Singur, and it is we who had voted for them.’  This was the common refrain of the young and the old, men and women, of the villages surrounding the motor vehicles project.

UNHEARD OF ANTI-MAMATA SLOGAN

An unheard of slogan rent the drippy, cold, and cloudy skyline of Singur from that day onwards: ‘Mamata Banerjee, Singur thekey dur hato, abhi hato, jaldi hato!’ The slogan-shouting brigade, none of them — we spoke to them and found to our great amazement — has ever voted for the Left.  Mamata does have cause to worry.

‘We have no quarrel with the truckers or indeed with any vehicular traffic – once we see a single Trinamul-flag wielding SUVs (ironically all Tata Sumo models of various vintage), we shall block its passage, and make it park on the grassy curb.

‘We shall feed them, allow them to take rest in our hutments in the villages — but they shall and must remain confined away from their beloved didi – whom we had loved too, once before, during the rural polls, but– never again.’

The speakers ranged from the 80 plus Ahsan Ali Mollah to the 20 something Raghu Majhi, from the elderly and purdaansheen, burqah-naqab-clad Nazma Biwi to the kurti-salwar-dupatta-wearing Rina Murmu – all, all of them former supporters of the Mamata brigade, but no longer.

DISTRESS LEADS TO SUICIDE

What was going through the mind of the 85-year-old Sushen Santra when he went to the small manohari dokaan (a tiny ‘variety store’ — very typical of rural Bengal, a shop that remains inevitably closed in the noon hours [and until sundown] when the owner-salesperson takes a dutiful nap), at Pakhirapara, knocked on the jhaanp or thatched hinged-on-top front shade of the shop, and hesitantly asked for a bottle of cheap, locally-produced pesticide.

The owner, mildly disturbed even disoriented at having his routine afternoon bhātghoom (or restful slumber after a rice-and-curry meal) being unsettled, sleepily handed over the small recycled bottle of the deadly chemical, yawned, accepted the currency notes, gave back the change in small coins, yawned again, and went to slumberland.  Dada, he was later to tell me, regret pouring out from his reedy voice, had I been a little more alert I would realised that Sushenkaka was upto something, something bad.  Sushenkaka had been in a very, very depressing mood for the past week or so.

TRAGEDY UNFOLDING

After all, please understand, dada, continued the dokaan-malik, kaka’s entire family cholto or ran on the wages, his three married sons brought home from the motor vehicles factory where they had found jobs in the ancillary sector, and they had given away their land, never paying heed to the local Trinamul toughs against doing it, and had not joined the oi jey ki sab krishi-rakkha samity korechhey Mamata didi.

The whole family, we were quick enough to learn, went on convincing others how the LF government’s rehabilitation-compensation package plus the high wages they would draw from the industrial set up and its peripheral units, would be nearly seven times the income they would squeeze out of their tiny plots of shariki-bibadi jomi (agri-land under internecine dispute within the family).

Then Sushen babu heard the bad news.  Mamata Banerjee has set up a road blockade.  The factory hands were being beaten up and their families harassed.  This was followed by the terrible news in the form of the distorted versions ran in the local dailies — about the entrepreneur of the factory leaving Singur and Bengal – for ever.

A BLACK MARK ON TRINAMULI ACTION

‘One man less would mean one mouth, less to feed, and at any rate I am getting decrepit, old, and constantly having to take pricey medicines – I am becoming an expensive luxury that my family should be rid of.’  Then he took the terrible decision, and took his own life.  His death remains a widening black mark on the Trinamul Congress’s anti-people foray of the worst kind.

Mamata must realise that if the impasse continues, and the factory entrepreneur does stick to his resolve to have the small car roll out from Panthnagar instead of Singur, if the future of the factory itself is made to confront a menacingly large question mark, then Sushen Santra’s death may well be followed by the death of others in the areas like Joymollah, Ratanpur, Singherbheri.

In the meanwhile a solicitous and sympathetique governor, after having quit his earlier programme of two hours of saving electricity — as the summer becomes muggy and stickily warm – has declared himself agreeable to Mamatadidi’s proposal of acting as the ‘facilitator and not the negotiator,’ as he was careful to explain to the media glare now pouring on him, to ‘solve the Singur problem.’

INTERNECINE SQUABBLING

The solution is, the governor must have realised by now, three sessions and four days later, far to seek, as different voices are heard from the Trinamulis, the Naxalites, the SUCI, and the various fractions of the ‘save farmland committee’s disparate and squabbling leadership.  The state government is as always quite open to suggestions from the opposition, provided such proposals materialise at all beyond the puerile clinging to the cry for ‘return the land — and let the entrepreneur go away, what we care if he does.’

Elsewhere, throughout the state, a vast people’s movement led by the Bengal unit of the CPI (M) and the Left Front has started to unwind like a coiled spring with mammoth participation by every cross section of the people including technologists, scientists, engineers, doctors, lawyers, IT professionals (three of the latter when they had gone to seek a brief interview with the didi, had the experience of being verbally abused in unprintable words, called Communist spies, and shoved away), students-youth-women, in cities and towns, in villages and hamlets—every day — every morning, afternoon, and evening.

A different form of campaign, too, is going on via the internet and the cell phone network.  Dozens of websites with the theme ‘we want industrialisation,’ have been launched and they are drawing thousands of ‘hits’ every day.

PEOPLE’S MOVEMENT STATEWIDE

The irate people whose ranks cut cross political affiliations, leanings, sympathies, obsessions, have but a single slogan: ‘we want industrialisation in Bengal and we want the Singur factory to be made viable again.’  The entire state has witnessed large whiteboards come up at street crossings where people are putting on their signatures calling for industrialisation, and prevailing upon Mamata Banerjee and her underlings to end the anti-people sit-in.  Marches are taken out with lighted candles.  Artistes and performers have put on shows in solidarity with the people’s movement.

The people’s movement in Bengal for industrialisation based on an augmented agrarian foundation shall go on — and the people shall put in the final word, let no one doubt this—to their peril.

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Written by kapush

September 6, 2008 at 6:04 pm

Posted in Singur

Tagged with , , , , , ,