Nandigram: People of Nandigram, who changed the political landscape of West Bengal 12 years ago because of their movement against land acquisition by a dubious Indonesian firm called the Salem Group that the Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee government had invited, are now disappointed with the Mamata Banerjee government. They feel the Trinamool government has “forgotten” them and now there is a yearning for another “poriborton” (change).
Nandigram in the East Midnapore district and Singur from the Hooghly district were instrumental in paving the way for the rule of Trinamool Congress in 2011. Since then, however, the locals have assessed their loss due to the violent movement against land acquisition.
Nandigram is a part of the Tamluk Lok Sabha constituency that will vote on 12 May. The Trinamool here had defeated the Left Front in 2011. Eight years after the landmark people’s verdict, the locals now see that the fate of just a select few have changed for the better. A large section of the electorate here now say they have been forced to think about the “second option”.
Haripada Mandal, a farmer who was a member of the Bhumi Uchchhed Pratirodh Committee formed in 2007, says, “What did we get from the movement against land acquisition? We were used as pawns in the Trinamool’s political battle. We are still living in poverty. If the industry had arrived here, we would have got jobs.”
The Trinamool had supported this committee — believed wrongly to comprise Maoists and Naxals in the rest of India — in the last decade. When they came to power, most of the leaders of the committee joined the party.
Rejul, a local shopkeeper at the Khejuri block, said, “All leaders of the Trinamool are living a wonderful life. Where do they get so much money from? There is not much change in our living standards. To get government benefits, we have to bribe the local Trinamool leaders. Did we fight for this day against the CPI (M)?”
The local Trinamool leader says this is “false propaganda of the CPI(M) and the BJP”.
Trinamool candidate from Tamluk Lok Sabha constituency Dibyendu Adhikari says, “It is a baseless allegation against the Trinamool. We have worked tirelessly for the development of the area. We will defeat this propaganda and win by a greater margin.”
Local MLA and State minister Suvendu Adhikari says, “It is the CPI(M) whose votes are slipping towards the BJP. If the CPI(M) cannot save its base, it’s not our fault.”
BJP State unit president Dilip Ghosh, on the other hand, says, “It is a matter of fact that the Trinamool is supporting the CPI(M) in this area so that votes against the Trinamool get divided.”
The local CPI(M) leadership attribute the disillusionment of the people of Nandigram with Mamata Banerjee to their party regaining popularity in the area, thanks to the reopening of the party office here.
The Congress has given its Tamluk ticket to Lakshman Seth, a former leader of the CPI(M) and three-time MP.