People's Democracy

(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)


No. 36

September 14 , 2008



Mamata Forced To Withdraw From Singur

B Prasant

WHEN the garishly decorated dharna manch was pulled down during the morning of September 8, the local Trinamulis hung their heads in utter shame and sheer frustration. A mere 12-hours back, the local head honcho of the Trinamuli gangsters who had been employed to ‘mount a frontal assault on the motor vehicles factory if nothing else succeeded,’ were strutting about telling us in inebriated detail how Buddhadeb’s government will soon bow low before our didi. Now, the manch, their own symbol of anti-Communism was being pulled down, by themselves.

Initially, everyone at the manch was happy, content, sure of victory on September 7. Things turned ugly later. By then didi had realised the turn her hideous game was taking and was quick to respond to the call of the comprehensively worried governor of Bengal – the circle of a few lakh of people around the manch was closing in, and the ranks included a vast number of Trinamulis – to attend a meting face-to-face with Bengal chief minister at the governor house.

From there, an hour or so later, a grim-faced Mamata Banarjee sped away in a Tata SUV, of course. Her underlings had earlier departed the scene after the usual ‘friendly photographic session with a smiling governor.’ Even the photographs tell a story – and informative it is too.

What was the governor all-abeam for? Why was Mamata Banerjee looking down? Why was Partha Chatterjee, leader of the opposition, looked as if he is the latest victim of the Trinamul ‘camp’ to have an attack of panic? Was there a small but definite hint of relief-even-happiness in the expression of the others present in the picture? The answer is to be found in what happened at the Raj Bhavan during the afternoon and evening of that day.


At the end of the meting, governor Gandhi addressed a brief press meet. He in fact read out from a sheet of paper. The reading took but a couple of minutes. What did the governor have to say? Well, three things could be discerned even after a cursory look at the ‘document.’

First, it calls for a ‘maximum amount of land to be given to the “land-losers” who would not accept compensation’ and -- horrors -- no specific amount is mentioned.

Second, it clearly calls upon Mamata to call off her sit-in demonstration that had been playing havoc with the supply of truck-transported materials of daily consumption, and life-giving medicines to central and north Bengal.

Third, it urges on the ancillary industrial units to suspend production for a week, please.

What were Mamata’s original demands? And what did she finally get?

The magical ‘400 acres within the project area’ is now history. The cantankerous and shrill call for the entrepreneurs of the factory to leave Bengal, accompanied by a howling ‘and what do I care about who-leaves-or-stays’ frame-of-mind had found no support even in the kindly ambience of the governor house.

The state Left Front government had remained an epitome of patience. Throughout, the Left Front had backed fully, unitedly, the cabinet of ministers on the Singur impasse, especially Buddhadeb and industries minister Nirupam Sen. Biman Basu, chairing the LF meetings had always called for patience, discretion, and reason.


On the other hand, the dharna manch had seen much song-and-dance routines rigorously, routinely, performed with the leading and enthusiastic participation of the then cheery and about-to-taste-victory Mamata. Other things had happened, too. In the anxiety to be a ‘success,’ some of her ‘well-wishers,’ some local, others hardly so, had told Mamata Banerjee that this was her ‘last chance’ to embarrass the LF government seriously enough towards ‘unseating it.’ A boasting-jesting Mamata, puffed with a false sense of confidence, had also overlooked some other developments that were slowly gathering momentum within her eyeing distance. What were these developments?

The number of the Trinamulis had steadily gone down from near her manch. Rifts were surface-apparent between the hard-liners like Becharam Manna of the ‘save agriculture committee,’ and the Maoists under Purnendu Bose on the one hand, and the local Trinamuli MLA Rabin Bhattacharya and his backers-uppers, in and out of the Trinamul Congress, on the other. ‘400 acres within the factory’ was fast becoming a funny story.

Much more importantly, elsewhere, the mass of the people of Singur and its surrounding areas were organising themselves in an ever-closing circles that increased finally to a couple of lakh of people – huge processions started to circulate the manch albeit from afar almost every day.

The ‘counter-blockade-on-the-move’ was becoming filled with slogan-shouting that carried no malice, menace, or threat – merely a sonorous appeal to reason, something that the head honcho of the Trinamulis would not see, feel, or hear. Mamata was being urged all-the-while by the Trinamuli-supporting Singur farmers themselves to ‘please, please go away.’

She could not, would not, read the writing on the wall. Surrounded by a smallish cluster of sycophants, of her outfit, of the corporate media, and of a select few industrial houses who had kept their claws sharp and their shark’s teeth pointed, to grab hold of the Singur land plot if the motor vehicles factory actually did not take off, the Trinamuli chief had lost touch with the masses, and thus with the ground reality.

She did return to the dharna manch in the late evening of September 7 from the Raj Bhavan. With failing voice, she announced to the remaining faithful that it had all been a ‘historic victory.’ She would not say for whom.


Earlier, addressing the media after the meeting of the Left Front committee, its chairman Biman Basu said that the reporting on the Singur situation done by chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee in the LF meeting was enough to convince the Front constituents that a definite progress could be achieved.

Basu asserted that negotiation was now quite apparently the only viable alternative to any and all other means of settling what the Trinamul Congress was indulging itself at Singur – albeit outnumbered and counter-blockaded by the people of Singur and Hooghly.

What must be realised is that Bengal lags regrettably behind the national average in terms of the motor vehicles industry. A boost to this sector of the organised industrial realm would be a boost to the economy of Bengal, indeed a boost for the people’s well-being and for better lives. Any ruinous assault mounted on the Singur factory would be an attack, a grim and heart-breaking event, in fact, for the thousands upon thousands of young women and men -- eager as they are, and getting filled with forebodings as they must be -- to get themselves usefully and gainfully engaged in different fields of industrial employment.