The opposition Left-Congress alliance is promising to reverse what Singur did five years ago when the place drove out Tata’s Nano and drove in Mamata Banerjee.
It was Trinamool Congress chief Banerjee’s massive campaign against the proposed Nano car plant in Singur, about 40km from Kolkata, that catapulted her into political relevance after her party’s back-to-back debacles in the 2004 Lok Sabha and 2006 assembly elections.
This farming countryside remains a Trinamool bastion but murmurs of dissent are heard too. Banerjee has failed to return the land taken from farmers for the Tata factory. Not that many people are willing to. Besides, the two Trinamool ministers from the area are engaged in ceaseless infighting.
That’s where the Left-Congress alliance senses a kill. It is bombarding Singur with rallies where each speaker promises to bring back Tata and revive the abandoned Nano plant — which has again become the metaphor for industries and development in the area.
“Five years have been wasted. Singur has been turned into a graveyard. Now, there has to be a change towards development and the change should start from Singur,” CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury said at a weekend rally.
He was campaigning for seasoned CPI(M) poll manager Rabin Deb, the opposition candidate for Singur against the Trinamool’s three-time MLA, octogenarian Rabindranath Bhattacharya. Nearly 2.3 lakh voters will decide their fate on April 30.
“An automobile hub could have come up in Singur … People misread the situation. They were sceptical and there was failure in gaining their trust,” Bengal Congress president Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury said, echoing Yechury.
For his part, Deb started his campaign riding a Nano.
“Bringing Tata back to their abandoned plant in Singur is our top priority. Bengal needs industries… Everyone in Singur is asking me if we can bring Tata back. I am saying, yes, we can. And we will,” he said.
Chief minister Banerjee visited Singur a day before the Yechury-Chowdhury rally. It was her first public meeting there after September 2011. The focus of her speech was how her government has spent Rs 170 crore on the Singur block alone over the past five years.
More than the opposition, Banerjee is probably worried that her legislator, Bhattacharya, is not in talking terms with Becharam Manna, the Haripal MLA who controls the party organisation in Singur.