West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Saturday held a meeting with representatives of the umbrella organisation which had spearheaded the Singur protest to discuss the future course of the movement to return land to unwilling farmers. This came a day after the Singur Land Rehabilitation & Development Act, 2011, was struck down as unconstitutional and void by a Division Bench of the Calcutta High Court.
Though Ms. Banerjee refused to comment, Rabindranath Bhattacharya, State Agriculture Minister and among the first protesters, said the Krishi Jomi Jibon Jibika Raksha Committee is planning to relaunch the movement. This will be done in tandem with the legal battle, he said. The umbrella organisation (committee for protecting farm lands, lives and livelihoods) comprises several civil rights groups and representatives of political parties.
“The committee took a unanimous resolution to stand by the peasants, sharecroppers and agricultural labourers of Singur. The committee will take all possible steps to ensure the rights of the farmers,” Pradip Banerjee, convenor of the committee, told journalists after the meeting. Representatives of the committee said they will go to Singur and renew the movement at the grass-root level.
According to a committee member, since the government cannot launch a campaign on land-return, the committee will be at the vanguard. This is also an attempt to stand by the people of Singur, many of whom feel let down by the efforts of Trinamool Congress-led government in returning their land.
Representatives of political outfits like Socialist Unity Centre of India (Communist), People’s Democratic Conference of India (PDCI), Party for Democratic Socialism (PDS) and Janata Dal (United) were also present at the meeting.
On being asked whether the meeting signalled a new political realignment, PDS leader Samir Putatunda said, “No discussions on party lines were held at the meeting. There is no question of political realignment.” He said all the representatives of political parties present at the meeting had participated in the movement against forcible land acquisition in Singur and they discussed the present situation. A representative of the committee said attempts are being made to expand the committee.