Keeping in mind the left central trade unions’ countrywide strike call on February 28, CPI(M) Polit Bureau member and former West Bengal Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee has said that he should not have publicly spoken against strikes two years ago while in power.
“What I had stated regarding strike, I should not have said. I made it clear then also and I repeat it again now,” Mr. Bhattacharjee told delegates at the 23rd CPI(M) state conference in Kolkata.
Mr. Bhattacharjee, in 2009, had told a meet of the industry in Kolkata that he was against strikes and bandhs “which are like disease plaguing West Bengal.”
He had also then said that he belonged to a party which called strikes and bandhs and as a Chief Minister he had to keep silent.
Mr. Bhattacharjee had been against bandhs called from time to time during his tenure as Chief Minister.
Making a fresh admission of his government’s faulty land acquisition policy that contributed largely to the fall of the 35-year-old Left Front rule in West Bengal, the former Chief Minister said that there should have been more discussions over the issue.
“The negative impact of the incidents in Singur and Nandigram centering the land acquisition for industry went against us. But that does not mean the initiatives for industrialisation were wrong,” Mr. Bhattacharjee said at the party conference here on Friday.
The forcible land acquisition in Singur in 2006 for Tata Motors small car plant as also death of 14 people at Nandigram in police firing over the land grab in 2007, were the turning points in Bengal politics that culminated in fall of the ruling Left Front in the 2011 Assembly poll after 34 years in power.
Calling upon party cadre to take a lesson from the events in Singur and Nandigram, Mr. Bhattacharjee said “we should have been more patient and held more discussions since development is meant for society which we failed to impress upon the people.
“If one can’t realise the efforts of industrialisation, then what can be done?” he said in reference to the strong resistance to the government’s move to acquire land to set up industries, particularly the Tata Motors small car factory at Singur.
The former Chief Minister also admitted ‘lapse’ by his government faltering over land, forest, mines and natural resources being diverted to the hands of big corporate entities.
Mr. Bhattacharjee regretted that when nearly 80-85 per cent of the Tata Motors factory work was complete, “the Tata group abandoned the project abandoned due to the opposition’s movement.”
He also said that there was propaganda about land acquisition by the police at Nandigram which spread like wildfire “and things turned against us.”