For this 57-year-old Muslim housewife from Jadubari Chowk in Nandigram,life took a devastating turn on March 14,2007,when she lost her 17-year-old son in the police firing while protesting against the land acquisition for a chemical SEZ. Firoza Bibis life again took a new turn after she was declared Trinamool Congress candidate for the Nandigram Assembly by-elections scheduled for Monday.
Pitted against her is seasoned politician Parmananda Bharati,the Left Front candidate and PDCI candidate Badshah Alam. While Bibi is depending on the sympathy wave to carry her through,her Left Front and PDCI opponents are banking on the vote share.
When The Indian Express team caught up with her in her village on Sunday,she was busy drying foodgrains. My son will not come back. But I want to win and make sure no other family shares my fate, says Bibi. The March 14 incident is still fresh on her mind.
Our family has only six bighas of land and we did not want to give it up. That day my son just went out to protest like others in my village. In the evening I heard the news that he has been shot and he died subsequently, she adds.
An ardent supporter of the Trinamool Congress,Bibi contested for the 1998 panchayat polls but lost. There was a rally in Gokulnagar recently where Mamata Banerjee announced that this time a family member of the March 14 victims will be the candidate. I never imagined that it will be me. However in December,I learnt that she liked me as a candidate and a number of people came to my house. I accepted their offer, Bibi says.
Life has changed for her since then. For the past few weeks she woke up in the wee hours and after offering her prayers,she would meet groups of people in villages all around Nandigram and attend meetings.
Now I return home between 9 to 10 at night,which is unimaginable for a woman coming from a household like mine. People now throng my house day and night. They extend their support and push me on, Bibi adds.
Her family too has extended full support to her. Her husband,Sheikh Munirul Islam,a retired KOPT employee and her elder son,Sheikh Zahirul Islam,both accompanied her in her campaigns. It is not an election,but a noble cause for our family. We all want her to win, says Islam.
Bibi has not only taken on her seasoned rivals,but her popularity has exceeded that of others. In fact,she has quite a following in Nandigram.
For her Left Front opponent,hard calculations will win him the seat. She is a political novice. Elections are not won by emotions but by voters. I am sure to win,because,PDCI and TMC have pitted separate candidates and their vote will be divided. Whereas our Left Front vote is intact, says Bharati.
Badshah Alam,who initially was with the CPM,later changed ranks and joined BJP. He is now the candidate for Siddiqullah Chowdhurys PDCI. He,too,is equally confident that he will win.
I will win simply because people have lost faith in both the CPM and the Trinamool. I will also get the minority votes, Alam says.