Less than a year ago, Shyamali Das, 47, had named her grandson Parivartan on the back of a pro-change wave Trinamool chief Mamata Banerjee successfully created to dislodge the Left Front from power.
But today Das, like many others, is a bitter person.
“What change? If anything has changed at all, it is for the Trinamool and its leaders,” said Das, a dispossessed farmer in Singur, where the West Bengal government had acquired land for the Tata group to build the Nano plant. The project fell through because of the agitation spearheaded by Banerjee.
“We threw out the CPI(M) (the leading party in the Left Front) for good. Now the Trinamool Congress too should be taught a lesson. There should be a third force to vote for – the Congress, the SUCI(C) or maybe even the naxalites. Otherwise we will not vote in the coming panchayat polls.”
Though the West Bengal government pushed through legislation on returning land, the Tata group has moved a division bench of the Calcutta high court on this, challenging the move.
Banerjee, who visited Singur 38 times between 2006 and 2011, has not gone there once after becoming chief minister. Bitterness is in the air in Singur now.
“All our dreams are shattered. Those leaders who spent days and nights with us are now beyond our reach,” said Devidas Dutta, a dispossessed farmer who now works for a small snacks shop near Singur railway station.
The railways gave 16 such shops on its land to some dispossessed farmers of Singur in 2009, when Banerjee took charge of the ministry.
Only three shops of the 16 open nowadays. The rest never started working. The railways also gifted Rs.5,000 to each of the recipients to start their business.
Of the three, one is owned by Manoranjan Malik, the father of Tapasi Malik, who was killed during the anti-acquisition movement. Tusharkanti Shit, also a dispossessed farmer and owner of a snack shop, said: “We were promised return of land as soon as the Trinamool came to power. Nobody warned us about any legal complexities.”
Local Trinamool leaders had given a proposal that all party MLAs and MPs donate a day’s salary to the dispossessed farmers. But it was not carried through.