Home India Politics CPI-M, Trinamool both hope to ride on Nano factor

CPI-M, Trinamool both hope to ride on Nano factor

By Aparajita Gupta, IANS,

Singur (West Bengal) : For Tata Motors’ Nano, Singur may be history. But for rival parties in this rural hamlet where the abandoned factory of the world’s cheapest car still stands like a haunted mansion, it is the most potent weapon to sway voters in the Lok Sabha polls.

The ruling Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) is hoping to cash in on what it calls resentment among people at the Tatas being forced to wind up the project here in Hooghly district due to sustained protests by farmers allied to the Trinamool Congress.

“Common people here are dissatisfied because they had perceived a future for their children in this project. But since it is not happening, they feel dumped. The opposition is responsible for this,” Balai Sabui, a prominent CPI-M leader of the area, told IANS.

The Trinamool of course differs.

“I think we will win with a considerable margin from here. The Nano factor will play a positive role for us. People will choose us because they are fed up of the oppression by ruling parties,” said Becharam Manna, the Singur Panchayat Samiti vice president and Trinamool leader who led farmer protests against acquisition of farmland for the project.

Singur forms part of the Hooghly parliamentary constituency where polls will be held May 7 and which has elected CPI-M’s Rupchand Pal six times since 1989. The last time the opposition won was in 1984 when Congress candidate Indumati Bhattacharya scraped past Pal.

In 2004, Pal won over Trinamool nominee Indrani Mukherjee by 165,000 votes, with the Congress coming a distant third.

The Singur assembly seat has seen both the opposition and the ruling Left Front register victories from time to time. The Trinamool triumphed in the last assembly polls in 2006. The constituency has over 196,000 voters.

Following the farmer protests against the Nano project spearheaded by it, the Trinamool managed to increase its support base and made a clean sweep of the seats in the area during last year’s rural body polls.

Though Trinamool is yet to announce its candidate, the CPI-M has renominated Pal. The Trinamool is hoping to benefit further from its new alliance with the Congress.

“We will do fairly well in the elections. The people will choose us because they are extremely disgruntled with the fact that Tata Motors have pulled out due to violent protests from the opposition,” Sabui said.

After Tata Motors took up the project in this area and construction work started, the area was abuzz with activity, like in the industrial belts of Asansol and Durgapur in the neighbouring district of Burdwan, he said.

“All those who were trained to run the canteen are now sitting idle. They are all annoyed with what the opposition did,” Sabui said.

Trinamool supporters have a different story to tell.

Manna, who floated Krishi Jami Raksha Committee (Singur Save Farmland Committee) to lead the farmer’s movement, said the people were angry as they had not been given back the land taken from them for the project.

“These people will give their answer on election day,” he asserted.

Singur turned into a battleground for about two and a half years since May 2006 after the government announced the project. Finally, Tata Motors in October last year shifted the project to Gujarat.

The West Bengal government acquired 997.11 acres in Singur for the factory. Singur still continues to be polarised between those who did not want to give away their land and those who agreed to do that.

“The ruling party will lose ground here. We will put all our strength into making that happen. We lost our land to the oppression of the powerful (Left Front). But they can’t dampen our spirit. This can’t continue for long,” Mahadeb Das, 35, a farmer who had to give up around three acres for the project, told IANS.

Das said he is idle now. He borrows money from friends and relatives for daily sustenance.

Ramen Das, 40, who gave up land for the project, said: “We had given land with the hope that the factory will come up and our future generations can work in it. But all our hopes are now shattered.”

(Aparajita Gupta can be contacted at [email protected])