“I have dreamt of this verdict for so long, for the people of Singur. Now, I can die in peace,” said a Vindicated and visibly jubilant, Mamata BanerjeeChief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Wednesday termed as “landmark victory” the Supreme Court judgment on land acquisition by Tata Motors at Singur for its abandoned Nano car project. Hitting out at the erstwhile Left Front government for the Singur land acquisition, Mamata said it was a “historical suicide” by the CPM.
Vindicated and visibly jubilant, Mamata said it was something that she had “dreamt of for long” and “now, she could die in peace”. “I have dreamt of this verdict for so long, for the people of Singur. Now, I can die in peace. West Bengal is the final industrial destination. Keep that in mind,” said Mamata.
“This is a landmark victory… We have waited for this judgment for 10 years. This is a victory for the farmers, I expect everyone to celebrate this as ‘Singur Utsav’. It is like an invocation for Durga Puja celebrations,” she added.
In a speech littered with references to the agitation launched by her, wherein she had staged a hunger strike for 26 days in Kolkata to protest against the acquisition process, the CM said: “From the beginning, we had been telling that the method of the acquisition was unethical and land was taken away forcibly from the farmers.”
The wave of protests started by her — beginning with a seemingly innocuous gesture of planting paddy near a field at the Tata factory site — unleashed a force that would eventually end the Left Front’s 34-year-old unchallenged regime. But it was also her opposition to the deal that forced the Tatas to opt out of West Bengal, giving her the tag of being “anti-industry”, one that Mamata still continues to fight.
However, a patch up seems on the card. Mamata is set to leave for a trip to Rome for Mother Terera’s canonisation on September 2, following which she will go for a business trip to Munich. Key among those in her business delegation are Tata Metalinks MD Sanjiv Paul and Tata Steel India and South Asia MD T V Narendran.
For Mamata and the Trinamool Congress, the Singur movement was more than just another protest. The party’s slogan — ‘Ma-Maati-Manush’ — was coined during the agitation. Trinamool leaders said one of the key reasons why the Singur protests were so significant was that the unprecedented support from intellectuals and activists, who had hitherto been identified as being “Left-leaning”.
Mamata on Wednesday recounted one such figure, writer and activist Mahasweta Devi, who recently passed away in Kolkata. “Had Mahasweta Devi been alive today, she would have been very happy… It is victory for the farmers, victory for truth and victory for ‘Maa-Maati-Manush’. This triumph of the people of Singur would be written in history,” she said.
The CM said her government would shortly work out on a mechanism to return the land to the farmers as directed by the court. She would hold a strategy meeting on Thursday on how to implement the court’s order.
Mamata also paid tribute to Tapasi Malik, a farmer’s daughter at Singur who was in the forefront of the agitation by anti-land acquisition Krishi Jami Raksha Committee floated by Trinamool Congress. The half-burnt body of the teenage girl was found on December 18, 2006 at Bajemelia near the project site.
The case, which led to public uproar, was initially handled by CID but was handed over to CBI by the West Bengal government after demands by Opposition. In an embarrassment to the CPM, the party’s former secretary of Singur zonal committee, Suhrid Dutta, and supporter Debu Malik were convicted in the Tapasi Malik murder case by a Hooghly district court.
The CM also reminded how the Singur movement was followed by Nandigram movement, which was also against land acquisition for industry purpose. “My salute to Singur farmers who were never cowed down by the pressure of the then state government for illegal acquisition of land. We spearheaded the Singur movement taking all farmers together against this unjust acquisition of land. We never wanted to deprive any farmer and wanted to ensure that none of them was discriminated,” she said.
State minister and Trinamool leader Partha Chatterjee said on September 2, Singur Divas would be celebrated across the state. “Those who had used brute force to acquire land should tender an apology to the masses and hang their head in shame… It is victory for farmers, victory for truth and victory for Ma-Maati-Manush,” he added.