It was just minutes after March 14, 2007 when police fired on agitating farmers that Mamata Banerjee lambasted the then state government and initiated an agitation, which ultimately ended the 34-year Left rule.
However, it was a U-turn on Tuesday, when she and her entire party top brass remained silent as police allegedly fired on land agitators in Loba village, Birbhum district.
It was a quick reaction from the state home secretary Basudeb Bandopadhaya, in which he denied police firing was all the government did throughout the day. The government statement came hours after local Trinamool Congress MP Shatabdi Roy condemned the incident of ‘alleged firing’.
“I heard from villagers that there was firing. But I do not know who fired on whom,” Roy said. Soon after the home secretary said, “There is no report of police firing in Loba village.”
Interestingly, a few scheduled press conferences at the state secretariat at Writers’ Buildings was cancelled at the last moment, which was interpreted by many as a way to avoid embarrassing questions from the media.
Later Banerjee, all senior leaders, MPs, MLAs and party functionaries participated in ‘Bijoya Sammelani’. Even during the two-hour long programme and after, none raised the issue nor agreed to comment on it. Sources said that Roy already has earned the party chief ’s wrath by making ‘casual comments’ about the incident and even hinting that a firing took place.
However mentioning Birbhum district she asked senior party leaders including Partha Chatterjee secretary general to look into the matter. Party sources said that an obviously embarrassed party on Tuesday decided to remain mum on the issue. Senior leaders were also directed not to issue statements until further order by the party chief.
Neither Mukul Roy, party general secretary, nor Partha Chatterjee, secretary general and state industries minister, not even Subrata Mukherjee, state panchayat minister, who are the face of the party, commented on the issue. Some senior leaders on condition of anonymity said that it is further embarrassing because the party supported the farmers’ land agitation in Loba during the left front regime.
Another factor that added to the embarrassment is the factional feud erupting in the area which district party leader Anubrata Mondol and Roy taking different sides. However, both the Left and Congress were quick to react lambasting the state government and calling for a probe into the incident.