What could have been more of an irony? The communist government championing the cause of the Tata-s and the opposition mobilising farmers who don’t want to part with their land. The Singur fiasco has been hitting headlines daily for the past one month or so. The movement by the unwilling farmers spearheaded by firebrand opposition leader Mamata has stalled the progress of the Tata factory prompting the Tata-s to consider pulling out.
It would not be wise to blame the opposition alone. Surely, the government has come a cropper in tackling the land acquiring process from the very beginning. The chief minister is to be blamed equally for creating this deadlock since he relied on his cadre muscle rather than reason and failed to foresee the future. His idea that farmers can be ‘bought off’ has also failed miserably.
Well doesn’t it seem the government is giving a lot of importance to Mamata Banerjee all of a sudden? A year ago, police would have bodily lifted Mamata from Singur and dropped her on Howrah bridge! Thing is, the ruling party is alarmed at losing its foothold in the rural votebank – the so-called red bastion. Firstly, they badly burnt their hands in Nandigram and then in the gone by Panchayat polls the opposition fared unexpectedly well.
Her detractors claim that Mamata is upto some cheap politics. Some political mileage she is trying to gain from all this. But thanks to her, the farmers have found a voice and got some media attention who would have otherwise been crushed in the face of cadre tactics. To talk about the Mamata’s method to it, well it only reflects to some extent what the communists have been doing in the past, albeit in a wider scale, ensuring speedy outflow of capital from the state. Factories after factories, well doing ones, closed down in the 80s – call it destructive trade unionism. Now they want industries to come up which is a welcome move. But they are failing time and again, from Nandigram to Singur.
Personally I would be very happy to see a Tata factory come up here. The state badly needs some big industries. But I’m against forcibly taking away lands from peasants. A friend of mine who is a corporate honcho was telling me that it’s unacceptable if the government takes away land from farmers just because they are weak. What if it was ‘our’ land? The land that has benefitted a family for generations and will continue to earn their bread for generations to come, is an asset that you just can’t take away like that against a monetary compensation! In this connection, let me mention what Amartya Sen has recently said, that land has to compensated with land. That does make sense.