People's Democracy(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)
December 31, 2006
Trinamul, Naxalites Sprout Misinformation On Singur
LIES are uttered with impunity. Misinformation is spread around without fear of recrimination. Untruth is bandied about with alacrity. A brief narration of the story so far may not be out of place. It all started with Mamata Banerjee throwing up a variety of postulates on Singur and crying out that the fast would end once her ‘justified demands’ were met by the Bengal Left Front government. What were these postulates?
Initially, Mamata Banerjee would cry herself hoarse that only a complete withdrawal of the Singur automobile project would see her break her ongoing fast. Bengal chief minister was not in any mood to relent. Buddhadeb asked her to come in for a session of discussion but said that the Singur project would go right ahead as scheduled.
Then she did a small climb-down and said that perhaps, the automobile factory would need lesser area of land than they have been given. Could she see 500 acres of land of the 997 crore returned to the landowners, please, so that she could start eating again?
Buddhadeb promptly supplied her with reams of paperwork that clearly justified the state Left Front government’s actions about allocation of the amount of land it did. Mamata Banerjee was rendered speechless for a day or two- a tough task for her, one understands.
Subsequently, backing even farther away, Mamata Banerjee said that she had ‘undeniable proof’ that most of the Singur landowners had not given their consent for handing over land to the LF government.
Buddhadeb produced and in quick time, the full list of land owners who had not only submitted letters of consent but had also availed themselves of the large amounts of compensation money, collecting the banker’s cheques from the office of the Singur block development officer.
Mamata Banerjee was now being completely dictated to by not the lackeys of her own outfit, but by a rag-tag group of Naxalites and SUCI workers. These elements are of course duly aided and abetted by such ‘free spirits’ as Medha Patkar (who in a true Luddite fashion and keeping to her colours of an environmental anarchist, would like to see cars taken off from the streets of Bengal, if she could have her way). As per guidance received, Mamata Banerjee chose a different tack.
She collected a large bunch of so-called affidavits from ‘kisans of Singur’ that said that they are all unwilling to give consent letters, and to part with their ‘dear, precious agricultural plots.’ The scheme of hers was soon put paid for.
First, no affidavits can be lodged in the instant case except in the High Court. None has been received. Second, no cases have been lodged by the Singur landowners except in one instance and that case relates principally to acts of property disputes. Third, when a state government acquires land for public purposes, there is no legal proviso to ask for consent letters. It devolved on the pro-people and pro-poor Left Front government to make the receipt of consent of the landowners a prime concern when acquiring land after payment of adequate compensation.
In complete desperation, Mamata Banerjee now announced that she would write to the Prime Minister to ‘change the land acquisition act itself, perhaps putting to use an ordinance.’ There are almost no takers even in her outfit for this outlandish move.
Recently, veteran CPI (M) leader Jyoti Basu called upon her to withdraw the fast. Jyoti Basu said that ‘she is young yet and has plenty of struggles ahead of her… she must conserve her strength and come to the table for discussion.’ Mamata Banerjee turned her usual deaf ear to the solicitous advice of a senior political leader. She was busy tearing up Buddhadeb’s letters as TV cameras rolled.
Thus Mamata Banerjee, now almost completely shifted to the small print of inside pages and away from the footlights of the front-pages, of nearly all the Kolkata newspapers, English, Bengali, Hindi, and Urdu, finds herself constrained to cling to her ‘fast-till-death’ face-saver.
TV channels have of late become almost hostile to the actions of her outfit and that of the assisting Naxalites and the SUCI goons, especially after a young woman anchor of a TV channel was beaten up severely, with the Trinamul Congress chieftain herself doing more than a bit of provocation in full view of the TV cameras.
Her ‘courage of conviction’ continues to be loud and onerous, streams of comments from the passer-byes notwithstanding. Her voice remains strong. Her movements are vigorous, except when dignitaries come a-visiting and ask her to withdraw the programme that has been ‘on’ for 20-odd days now and she becomes ready for a teary cry from the heart.
Elsewhere, the project work at Singur makes brisk pace with the local populace coming out in their thousands to assist the developmental effort going on. This has happened despite occasional sneak attacks by Naxalites on CPI (M) supporters and on landowners who have collected the amounts of compensation. The Naxalites who have come from outside of the area are operating out of the houses of the local Trinamul Congress activists. They are isolated and would not go out during the daylight hours.
Mamata Banerjee’s ‘kisan movement’ in Singur has thus been reduced to criminal forays of the Naxalites and the SUCI as she languishes in the city, and the glare of publicity, of which she is so fond, gradually gets shifted away, far away from her ‘dharna manch.’ (INN)