Years after the Tatas abandoned their small car factory in favour of Gujarat frustrated by the land acquisition controversy, politics in Singur Assembly constituency still revolves around the failed project.
The abandoned factory shed, which stands a mute witness to the tumult that the place witnessed in 2006 marking the downhill journey of the Left Front, is the only talking point of the 2,05,434 voters, who are mostly rural, in this constituency going to the poll on May 3.
Will any factory come up in the abandoned site, or unwilling farmers will get back the 400 acres of land they had parted with? The question is being thrown at CPI(M) candidate Asit Das and Trinamool Congress’ Rabindra Nath Bhattacahrya, who is seeking re-election.
Mr. Asit Das said, “The people here now have realised that nobody can return the land and therefore will support our party this time.”
The Trinamool candidate, however, refuted Mr. Das’ statement, saying, “We fought here in the peasant’s interest. We will return the 400 acres to their rightful owners after forming government in the State.”
Questions are also raised by many whether the 400 acres, if returned, could be at all fit for cultivation as the construction activity has left spoilt the soil fertility.
Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee during a recent interaction with the city’s intellectuals admitted that he had made a mistake in handling Singur by relying on the ‘sense of responsibility’ of the main opposition party and promised such mistake would not recur.
Some of the unwilling farmers, who have refused to take their compensation cheques till now, still believed that their land would be returned once Trinamool Congress formed the government.
“We hope only Didi (Mamata) can return it (the land),” Bhuban Bagui, a farmer, said.
But many marginal farmers who had given their land and hoped that the Nano factory would give them a better living, were now facing poverty.
Bikash Pakira of Joymollah village, who had given land for the Tata project, is one such case.
“I had taken extensive training in the Tatamotor’s Pune factory and Ramakrishna Mission, Belur. I had a dream, but it lay in tatters and I find it difficult to maintain my family,” he said.
Since 2006, when Trinamool’s Rabindra Nath Bhattacaharya won the Singur assembly seat by a margin of 1,787 votes, the party has made further dent riding piggyback on the movement against land acquisition.
This was evident as Trinamool’s Lok Sabha election candidate Ratna De Nag was ahead of her CPI(M) rival in the Singur segment during the 2009 poll by a convincing margin of 22,257 votes.
The party, which has its stronghold in villages like Beraberi, Khaserbheri, Gopalnagar and Singur, is also in control of most of the panchayats under the assembly constituency.
Political observers say that Trinamool’s local leader Becharam Manna, who had challenged the land acquisition at Singur, is contesting election from neighbouring Haripal constituency and he has taken the youth brigade with him which might inconvenience the party here.
However, the passage to the Assembly has become smoother after Trinamool Congress entered into an alliance with the Congress which had secured 7,768 votes in the 2006 assembly election fighting on its own.
The BJP has also fielded a candidate in the constituency.