The land vs industry war in Bengal has made foes out of friends of the Marxists. Activists like Arundhati Roy and Medha Patkar have fought many a battle against communalism, farmers' suicides and ‘US occupation of Iraq’ with Left leaders.
On Thursday, Narmada Bachao crusader Medha Patkar found an unlikely ally in the Chambers of Commerce, which backed her stand that industrialisation in Bengal must have a human face and that the issue was being unnecessarily politicised.
In Delhi, Arundhati Roy staged a demonstration in front of the CPI(M) headquarters condemning police action in Singur. Both Roy and and Medha, who is in Nandigram, Bengal — another possible flashpoint in the state over the land acquisition issue — sent the same message. Bengal needs industrialisation but there should be a balance between agriculture and industry.
In Kolkata, eight chambers of commerce jointly issued a similar statement: "The process of industrialisation cannot be vitiated by politicising issues that need to be resolved with logic that addresses both industry-centric imperatives and also has a human face.”
The Bengal Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Bengal National Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Bharat Chamber of Commerce, Calcutta Chamber of Commerce, Confederation of Indian Industry (Eastern Region), Indian Chamber of Commerce, Merchants Chamber of Commerce and Oriental Chamber of Commerce observed that there was a “growing anxiety amongst all sections of concerned stakeholders in the society that the thrust towards industrial regeneration in Bengal could receive a severe setback because of politicisation” of the Singur issue.
The surprise backlash made the Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee immediately jump into action. It tried to make peace with Trinamool’s stormy petrel Mamata Banerjee.
But words can hardly break a determined Mamata. She refused to relent unless land acquisition was stopped at Singur.