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TC hopes Nandigram sacrifice will pay off

By Amitava Roy in Nandigram
May 06, 2009 15:25 IST
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In Priyanka Gandhi's words politicians should be ready to "sacrifice the now for the future" and the Trinamool Congress, which is fighting the polls in alliance with the Congress, is hoping that its sacrifices in Nandigram in 2007 would pay dividend in the form of votes.

Fourteen people were killed in police firing on protesters in 2007, when they were trying to thwart acquisition of farm land for industrial purposes and the TC claims credit for the agitation.

The Trinamool Congress holds only the Nandigram assembly segment of the Tamluk Lok Sabha seat, while six others areheld by the Communist Party of India-Marxist. The Trinamool Congress candidate Subhendu Adhikari, recalling the days in early January 2007, says a notice was put up at the Block Development Officer's office on January 3 for land acquisition that year without taking the panchayat or the people into confidence.

"Why should the government acquire land from the poor for a paltry sum and sell it to industries for a premium?" questioned Adhikari. Asked how Nandigram fuelled anti-Left feeling among the rural poor, who were the main support base of the Marxists, Adhikari said "till Nandigram, rural people in general thought the Left is their protector, but Nandigram proved to be an eyeopener and the support base shifted. "Using the Land Acquisition Act of 1894 to forcibly acquire land from poor for rich industrialists did not go down well with the rural people whose livelihood depend on land-based earnings," said Adhikary who had lost to sitting CPM MP Lakhsman Seth by 57,380 votes in 2004.

"Laxman Seth has not done anything for Tamluk. All that he has ensured is his own development and that of his family," Adhikari said. CPM candidate Laxman Seth's wife Tamalika Panda Seth disputes that it is a people's movement and claims it as a 'conspiracy' by the Trinamool Congress and Maoists against development.

"But people are turning around. A mass upsurge is taking place against those who misled the people," she told this correspondent. "Subhendu Adhikari is the leader of this conspiracy and has either misled or forced the villagers to join the so-called movement," Panda Seth, the chairperson of the Haldia Municipality says.

Asked why her husband known as the Haldia strongman, who was instrumental in bringing in several industries and setting up of educational institutions in the port town of Haldia across from Nandigram failed to gauge the public mood, she said "Nandigram is not an issue of industry versus agriculture. It is a conspiracy by the Trinamool Congress and Maoists."

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Amitava Roy in Nandigram
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