One of Mamata Banerjee’s greatest achievements in Bengal today is the peculiar beehive she has constructed around herself. This conglomeration comprises virgin Marxists, ultra communists, political opportunists, renegades, NGOs, fundamentalists, right wing and left wing intelligentsia; all fervently anti-CPIM. Each one of them is finding solace under her competent leadership and audacious approach for an eye to eye confrontation with a ‘Stalinist’ party. This group also has an undeniably flexible body, one which can lovingly kiss the frog and the snake at the same time. Two recent fascinating additions in her bandwagon are Medha Patkar and Amar Singh. The first one is an ‘acclaimed’ social activist, constantly bleeding for the poor and subjugated. After the much hyped ‘Narmada Bachao Andolan’ failed to halt the Sardar Sarovar dam project subsequent to a Supreme Court ruling, this activist is scavenging all directions to find another fitting prey to ponder upon. She has now found Bengal a comfy place and Mamata Banerjee a reliable stanchion to revitalize her lost significance as a fierce agitator.
The second member is a high profile political vermin who has dashed in from nowhere and found Mamata Banerjee a ‘dear ally’. After reaching the siege sight at Singur in his Mercedes – Benz, this political crook pleaded apology to the ‘oppressed’ farmers of Bengal for his earlier stands on Singur-Nandigram saying he was ‘misguided by the CPM leaders’. Let the Singur agitators just forget and forgive the incidence of Dadri (Ghaziabad) where on 8th July 2006, UP police under Mulayam Singh government fired indiscriminately on the farmers who were similarly agitating against fertile land acquisition for Anil Ambani’s power project. The project was initiated and patronized by Uttar Pradesh Development Council (UPDC) under the chair of Amar Singh, Mulayam Singh’s closest confidant. Medha Patkar was then on the opposite side, a part and parcel of the ongoing agitation. Let the Singur agitators also ignore the fact that this same Amar Singh, who is now voicing tough words from Mamata Banerjee’s podium against the Tata project, was earlier proactive to grasp the same project for Uttar Pradesh.
Blatant hypocrisy, vicious jealousy, megalomania, denigration, intolerance and bigotry – all the typical Bengali characteristics are getting detonated on this new platform provided by Mamata Banerjee. This assembly, as anticipated, is the last hope to ‘liberate’ the despaired and strained Bengal populace from thirty years of uninterrupted Left Front misrule. Who can dare to disagree with the hovering notion that anti-CPM voices are the genuine representatives of democracy today?
It looks like Mamata Banerjee and her team of louts has finally hit the bull’s eye. Her ‘uncompromising’ stand on the disputed 400 acres (compensation is pending for 305.47 acres of land among which 51.11 acres are under legal disputes. The actual figure then is 254.36 acres, where the owners have truly refused to accept compensation. Therefore, Mamata Banerjee’s demand to return ‘400 acres’ is a blatant lie) of the Tata Motors plant at Singur is approaching the predicted outcome. On 22 August 2008, Tata group chairman Mr. Ratan Tata while addressing media queries has said that he is ready to pull out from Singur at any time if ‘Bengal feels that Tatas are unwanted’. He categorically said, “If anybody is under the impression that, because we have made this large investment of about Rs 1,500 crore, we will not move, then they are wrong. It is not a hypocritical investment…. We would move, whatever the cost, to protect our people (employees).”
Mamata Banerjee must be very satisfied after Ratan Tata’s concerned address. The mass she represents in Bengal also must be pretty pleased with their leader’s great fortitude to achieve the desired goal. After all, isn’t she fighting for the poor but unyielding farmers from whom the wretched LF government and the Stalinist CPM has grabbed land and gifted to the Tatas? Replying to Ratan Tata’s warning Mamata Banerjee replied, “Tata was not here for so long - did the people of Bengal starve to death?” After all, who the hell is this Tata? Why did the WB government provide them ‘undue advantage’? The Tatas have invested only Rs 1,500 crores while ‘several other industrialists are making a beeline to invest in Bengal’ was her candid response.
These sermons coming out from the chattering lips of a self declared ‘industry friendly’ leader is enough assurance for the section of Bengali psyche which wants to carry on farming and fishing uninterruptedly and still hopes to attain a bright future in the 21st century. Mamata Banerjee is indeed a very popular leader in today’s Bengal and many Bengalis consider her as the sole spokesman of anti-CPIM sentiments in the state. Her course of political action (or destruction) is directly correlated with the popular support she enjoys. For people outside Bengal, it might be unbelievable to watch enthusiastic crowd applauding in joy when their popular leader urges a major industrialist group like Tata to depart with prestigious projects from the state. But in Bengal it is an absolutely normal scene. Anti-CPIM populace in this state has found the appropriate leader they deserve.
In context with the whole project what is the role of the ‘400 acres’ Mamata Banerjee is referring to? This land is allocated for 55 ancillary units, which are an indispensable part of the main car plant. These units are expected to generate more jobs than the main plant. 30 of the 55 units have already started their works. The easy proximity to these units will help the Nano project lessen its inventory level and thus ensure cost reduction. If these units are setup outside and far-off, the production cost of Nano will be higher and most likely it cannot maintain its one lakh pricing. This is elementary mathematics which even a kid will understand. But Mamata Banerjee and her advisers are not kids. She suggested an alternative plan, “There are 500 acres opposite to the factory location, which CPIM promoters have bought from the farmers. The state government was looking for the alternative. Here is the alternative.” Media investigators have revealed that the alternative land she is suggesting has not being bought by CPM promoters but by many other small industries, directly from farmers who are now willing to sell their farmland as the price of land has sharply climbed up in Singur.
From the total 13103 owners of 997.11 acquired acres, 10852 owners have already accepted the compensation (82.82 percent). 2251 owners (17.17 percent) who owned 305.47 acres has not yet received or accepted the compensation. Nirupam Sen, the Bengal minister of industries have raised a snappy question: in a democracy, what should be the conclusive decision of a democratically elected government based on these figures? Scrapping off the project or to go ahead with it?
Let us deal with just two facts about the misrule of the Left Front government:
The first: from 1990-91 to 2004-05 the per capita agricultural production of food grains in India has dropped from 200 to 180 kg. But in Bengal it has grown from 160 to 190 kg. What does it mean? It basically means that compared to India, Bengal has done remarkably well in food grain production in the recent years. The present crisis of soaring prices in the country, a direct result of low production of food grains is therefore not a contribution of the state of Bengal. The industrialization drive of the Left Front government should be viewed from this perspective.
The second: total agricultural land acquired for industry purposes by the WB government in 2005-08 was 10207 acres. Assess this figure with the 29937 acres of land distributed under land reform program in the same years. In comparison with the land distributed in the first two decades of Left Front rule these figures are low due to a narrower base of land available for redistribution at present. Even today, the extent of land distributed in West Bengal is much higher than the extent of land acquired. (Land reform continues in West Bengal: V.K. Ramachandran)
Land acquisition debates and disputes are common phenomena everywhere in this country but nowhere has it been twisted into a complete deadlock situation like in Bengal. Mamata Banerjee is definitely gaining political mileage from this situation because a large section of the Bengal mass loves her brand of negative politicking. In plain words, this attitude of a section of Bengali populace is not only a sign of obstinate minds but also depicts stupidity to a larger scale. It is also the mark of a collective cerebral sickness that has extended confidence towards a similar sick minded leader Mamata Banerjee.