Singur, which was instrumental in catapulting Mamata Banerjee to power in Bengal ending 34 years of Left rule, came back on Friday to haunt her party after a division bench of Calcutta high court threw out the Singur Land Rehabilitation and Development Act as unconstitutional and illegal.
Party leaders admitted the verdict might dent her popularity among farmers in the upcoming panchayat polls and even beyond.
Party leaders told HT the CM was racking her brains to find a way out and the government may eventually provide some respite to the Singur farmers.
"Singur is a symbol of Mamata Banerjee's land agitation which ushered in parivartan. This verdict will not only have an impact in Singur but throughout the state. We are preparing to tell farmers that they need to have patience. What is worrying is the panchayat polls are coming," said Becharam Manna, convener of Singur Krishi Jami Banchao Committee and a Trinamool MLA from Haripal that borders Singur.
Party leaders also stated that at a timing of the verdict is also detrimental for the party, since the relationship between Mamata Banerjee and the Congress in at its worst over the Presidential election.
Manna, however, said he trusts Mamata Banerjee would find a solution to the land problem and is expecting sops for the 'unwilling farmers'.
"This will hit the party's popularity like nothing else has done before. Issues such as the Park Street and Katwa rape case and the arrest of professor Ambikesh Mahapatra were urban issues that would no have any bearing on the polls. But she won the Lok Sabha and the assembly polls by being a messiah for the farmers promising return of Singur land, which is now a distant dream," said a senior MP known to have spearheaded the land agitation in Bengal.
Senior party leaders though refrained from public comments but told HT that the party is preparing to combat the issue at the village level.
They expect both CPI(M) and Congress would rake up the issue in the run up to the polls. Some of them also admitted the chief minister should not have passed the act in a hurry and should have taken advice from legal experts.
In the very first cabinet meeting on the day of the swearing in, Mamata took up the Singur issue as the very first agenda. She also remarked that returning the land was the topmost priority of her government.
The return of the 400 acres of the Nano factory was the main issue in party manifesto before the Lok Sabha polls and assembly polls.
"It was Mamata Banerjee's 26-day fast during the Singur agitation and the murder of Singur teenage agitator Tapasi Malik which became the subject of our extensive campaign. Now how will we face the questions? The very act has been thrown out. Our party men in the district are already asking awkward questions," said a senior TMC leader in Burdwan.
The party is also trying to set up its farmers wing to take on CPI(M)'s Krishak Sabha. Leaders think the process would also get a jolt.