The fiasco over the Nano plant of the Tatas in Singur has once again proved that both the Marxists and Mamata Banerjee are not concerned about the development of the state. No doubt, it is West Bengal'smisfortune that its fate is in the hands of some of the most short-sighted and petty-minded politicians in recent memory. When all sensible state governments in the country have welcomed the project in their states because of the technological marvel of so cheap a car, both the Marxists and Mamata are playing the dirty game of mud-slinging politics with a clear objective to win seats in the ensuing Lok Sabha elections. Mamata Banerjee, whose sole political objective in life is to block anything which the Marxists may try to do only to displace them from power in West Bengal. So, she has decided to pursue exactly the same kind of irresponsible policies that the Left introduced in West Bengal during the early 1960s. In a bitter struggle for power between the two leading political parties, the future of the state is sinking to the bottom of darkness.
The ruling Marxists are first to be blamed for introducing the politics of violence only to remain in power ignoring the welfare of the common people. Since the days of fascist red terror unleashed in Singur and Nandigram by the ruling CPM, there has hardly been any respite from miseries afflicted to the people in West Bengal. The Chief Minister, Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee, had replaced Jyoti Basu with the promise to offer ?better governance by a better Left Front government?. Buddhadeb'ssermons to lackadaisical state government employees were ?do it now? and be a humble servant of the people. But Bhattacharjee'sadvice seemed to have gone astray, as his administration became more and more anti-people and insensitive to criticisms. This is evident from the series of incidents that took place during the past 13-month period between January, 2007 and January, 2008. The period witnessed faux pas of communist administration in deporting writer Taslima Nasrin from Kolkata for her bold views against Islamic fundamentalists, messing up with tragic death of Muslim boy Rizwanur Rahaman, ration riots in south Bengal villages, total destruction of small village poultry firms due to neglect in tackling bird flu and in Kolkata Book Fair fiasco due to highhandedness of the party and its government.
The continued reliance of the Marxists on their cadres, who are mostly from the ranks of anti-social elements, to terrorise and even eliminate their political adversaries has built up a kind of anger against them which Mamata Banerjee can exploit. Nandigram is a typical example of the Marxist militias violently driving out their opponents while the police are made to stay away. While it is an incident which made the rest of India aware for the first time of vicious communist tactics, such onslaughts were always fairly common in West Bengal, where the Trinamool Congress supporters were the targets in places like Keshpur, Chhoto Angaria and elsewhere for years. The party'sdestructive politics had struck such deep roots that it took Mamata Banerjee little time to carry on from where the comrades had left. This is the precise reason why the Trinamool Congress has been joined by assorted groups of Maoists and extremist Leftists in the Socialist Unity Centre of India (SUCI) along with followers of the Jamaitul-Ulema-i-Hind to ensure that work at the Singur factory cannot proceed.
It doesn'tmatter to her that her recklessness will ensure that the investors will continue to stay away from the state. She mouths the old socialist slogans of jobs for everyone but is suspicious of the private sector playing a role in providing them.
But this socialistic brand is gradually losing its appeal in today'sIndia where middle-class aspirations have grown by leaps and bounds. Now she is mostly seen as a purveyor of negative politics, eager to exploit popular dissatisfaction, irrespective of their justification. However, her agitation in Singur, which will be seen by the middle class, her main group of supporters, as anti-development. For the first time, therefore, groups of people, who expected jobs in the Nano plant and in its ancillary units, have begun voicing their dissent against her. No doubt, Mamata has projected herself as a saviour of farmers by stalling future acquisition of land for industry in West Bengal. But her stance has definitely put off a chunk of urban middle class, particularly educated but unemployed younger generation, as she has proven records for overdoing things.
Although a solution is sought to be found to end the Singur deadlock at the initiative of Governor Gopalkrishna Gandhi, it is unlikely that the investors will be rushing to West Bengal immediately. Ratan Tata'sobservation that some people have thought that he is ?mad? to invest in the state is relevant in this context. Investors will definitely wait and watch whether the Tatas return to Singur or not. This is because of the reason that Ratan Tata has earlier written to the Governor indicating clearly that the work would be resumed only if the present character of the entire project land has not been changed. Now the government has promised to return land to a maximum number of unwilling farmers within the project area. It is to be seen how such changes in land pattern is acceptable to the Tatas.
(Kolkata VSK feature)