Mamata to visit troubled Singur tomorrow
Amid signs of chinks and rumblings in the unflinching loyalty she enjoyed in Singur, the cradle of a fledgling Trinamool Congress shortly before it came to power, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee visits the place tomorrow to preen the disenchanted land losers who once gave her a hand to drive away the Tatas.
Her 'damage control' visit to Singur comes at a time when Rabindranath Bhattacharya, a minister in her government and local leader, fell apart with the party supremo and the land losers for the abandoned Nano project, who in the past, had refused compensation at her call, demanded their pound of flesh.
In a significant development on Wednesday, the Singur land losers, once pied piped by Mamata, turned hostile to stage an angry demonstration on Wednesday demanding that the government give them the price of the acquired land that is locked in a legal tangle.
The situation turned more interesting because of Bhattacharya, once the right hand man of Ms Banerjee in Singur, who recently resented the way he had been shifted to another ministry and spoke in public about a section of partymen indulging in extortion in full knowledge of the leadership.
Respected by the local people, Bhattacharya, who holds considerable sway in the locality, was shifted to statistics from agriculture ministry.
Bhattacharya, who has refused to attend the administrative meeting, convened by the Chief Minister herself, has also threatened to 'spill all the truth' after Ms Banerjee returns to Kolkata from Singur.
It was from Singur that Ms Banerjee had spread out to the major expanse of Bengal land with the demand for returning the land of 'unwilling farmers' whose plots were acquired for the Tata Motor's small car project.
The impact of the Singur movement, compounded by a similar struggle in Nandigram, helped Ms Banerjee gain strength that eventually managed to cash in on many other issues to cause the downfall of the 34 years' old Left Front regime.
Spurred by Mamata's call, hundreds of land losers of Singur refused to accept their compensation cheques, sticking to the demand that their land be returned.
After coming to power in May, last year, the Mamata Banerjee government had passed the Singur Land Rehabilitation and Development Act, 2011 but it was nullified by a division bench of the Calcutta High Court.
Since then the matter has been pending with the Supreme court.
The court case drawing a vortex of legal complicacies threw in the winds the hopes for original owners to get back their land in near future. As a result of the legal battle, the compensation the land losers once refused to accept, also remained inaccessible.
However, apparently unmoved by Mr Bhattacharya's revolt, Ms Banerjee sought to assuage the sentiment of the local people by inducting Becharam Manna, another prominent leader in Singur, into her ministry.
But Mr Manna had a bitter taste of homecoming when he reached Singur from Kolkata on Wednesday to face the ire of the local villagers.