The Supreme Courts observation this week that the land acquired by the state government for the Tata Motors Nano factory in Singur during the Left regime should be returned to farmers may help the sagging political fortunes of Mamata Banerjee in Singur,which will vote Monday in the second phase of the rural polls.
For the last two years,the legal battle over the land acquisition and compensation package has alienated the Singur farmers,who are now surviving on a government dole of Rs 2 kg rice and Rs 2,000 a month for every family. That,too,was stopped for three months soon after it started in mid-2012.
It was in 2006 that the then Left Front government had acquired 997 acres of land in Singur for a Tata car factory,prompting Mamata to spearhead an anti-land acquisition movement,demanding return of land to unwilling farmers.
As the automobile giant moved out of Singur and Bengal,Mamata swept the 2008 panchayat elections, the Lok Sabha elections a year later and the assembly polls with massive margins from the area.
Mamata went on to promise the farmers that the land will be returned to them when she would assume office.
While her government passed the Singur Land Rehabilitation and Development Bill,2011,the Tatas moved the court and the case is still pending in the Supreme Court.
The local TMC leaders admit the party has become unpopular. Dejected farmers have started claiming money for the land which they had refused during the Singur movement,they add. A group of unwilling farmers have submitted applications to the district administration for a compensation package.
Mahadeb Das,a leader of the Singur land movement,said,We have reported about the situation to the top leadership. There is no doubt that our party will win here but with a slim margin. We will not be able to maintain the record of the Assembly elections. The people are disappointed.
The adverse ground situation notwithdstanding,the apex courts observation has raised the hopes of farmers as well as the ruling party.
Cabinet minister and the topmost leader of the Singur movement Rabindranath Bhattcharya said,The courts observation has not only boosted the spirit of the farmers but is also a positive and significant development for the party.
Besides the land issue,the infighting of the ruling party seems to have pushed the Trinamool on backfoot here.
Two cabinet ministers Becharam Manna and Rabindranath Bhattacharya openly fought over giving a zilla parishad ticket to another senior leader Manik Das. Several TMC leaders have chosen to be in the fray as Independents.
According to the official records,50 Independents are contesting the election in Singur block in the gram panchayats,panchayat samiti and zilla parishad seats. Almost all of them are disgruntled TMC leaders.
Bhattacharya said,There was infighting in the area prior to the filing of nominations in the election. But it is a political problem and we have resolved it politically. It does not have any connection to the land issue here.
In the 2008 Panchayat elections,the Trinamool had romped home at 15 of the 16 gram panchayats and three zilla parishad seats in Singur block.
The leaders of the anti-land acquisition movement Dukhkumar Dhara,Manik Das,Mamatas pointsman in Singur Becharam Manna and his wife Karabi Manna are in the poll fray.