People's Democracy

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


No. 36

September 14 , 2008




THE sit-in demonstration suddenly started to draw less men and women -- discontented kisans or otherwise. That happened on and from September 2. The reasons were clear for everyone to see.

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 let anyone of the gang that is out to bring an economic disaster to our state stay put in Singur.’ This was the common refrain of the young and the old, men and women, of the villages surrounding the motor vehicles project.

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!’ (Mamata Banarjee, Move Away from Singur, Now!) 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.

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.


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 bhāt-ghoom (or restful slumber after a rice-and-curry meal) being unsettled, sleepily handed over the small recycled bottle of the deadly chemical. Dada, he was later to tell me, regret pouring out from his reedy voice, had I been a little more alert I would have realised that Sushenkaka was upto something, something bad. Sushenkaka had been in a very, very depressing mood for the past week or so.

After all, kaka’s entire family 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.

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 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 – forever.


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’, so thinking the old man took the terrible decision of killing himself. 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 state governor has declared himself agreeable to Mamata’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.’

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, 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.

The irate people whose ranks cut across 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.