Singur is a rear-view mirror that showed chief minister Mamata Banerjee that the competition is closer than she thought.
The Trinamool stronghold seems to have second thoughts. The ruling party lost the Hooghly Lok Sabha constituency, which includes Singur, to the BJP in 2019.
The BJP fielded movie actor Locket Chatterjee to end Trinamool Congress’s reign in the constituency.
The Trinamool Congress had won the areas including Singur in a parliamentary election and two assembly polls since it backed a farmers’ agitation against a proposed car factory by Tata Motors.
The fall of Hooghly was particularly shocking for the Trinamool Congress. It was one of the 18 seats won by the BJP in the 2019 Lok Sabha election.
The Trinamool Congress lost 16 of the 42 seats in the state.
Mamata Banerjee vents her ire by launching a tirade on her own party leaders. She blamed their greed and nepotism at a party meeting. She seemed to confirm an allegation that the ruling party’s leaders were pocketing the freebies the government had offered to farmers.
Several local leaders were accused of taking a cut from the meagre sums workers received from the employment guarantee scheme and housing scheme.
That prompted Mamata Banerjee to set up helplines across the states for people to air their grievances.
No party has named their candidate for Singur this time. Sitting MLA Rabindranath Bhattacharya is not sure of being nominated by his party again.
The Trinamool Congress plans to announce all 294 candidates at one go.
It is working overtime to pull it out of the shame of the Lok Sabha election debacle.
Mamata Banerjee has set her eyes firmly on farmers as the BJP tries to replicate its success.
Farmers in Singur are busy harvesting potatoes and sesame from the land they got back from Tata Motors.
The official machinery is monitoring the harvest. The state government gives financial assistance to farmers in about 1,000 acres in Singur. The farmlands are under a special scheme launched by the government.
Samoor Bag is busy packing potatoes in jute sacks. The young farmer personifies Singur’s transition from farming-to-factory-to-farming. His father Anil owns an acre of farmland. Samoor was offered a job at the proposed Nano car factory.
When the company backtracked from its plans to set up the factory, Samoor was back in the field.
Anil is still sympathetic to the CPM, which lost popular support due to its insistence to steamroll the factory despite farmers’ protests. When asked if Mamata Banerjee would return as the chief minister, he nodded his head in the negative.
He just smiled when we pointed out that the CPM could not win the Lok Sabha election.
Anil is disappointed that the car factory never took off. Though he got the land back, farming is in no great shape. He says the government support isn’t helping much.
Farmers like Anil has a harsh story to tell. They fought for their land but what the factory left behind after a court battle was a wasteland.
Water sources have been tampered with and remnants of construction have made the land not tillable. The huge pipes abandoned by the company are scattered by the wayside as a memorial to apathy.
The BJP has stepped up its game all over the state. Prime minister Narendra Modi is scheduled to attend a rally at Brigade Parade Ground on March 7.
He is slated to attend two rallies ahead of each of the eight phases of polls.
In fact, the BJP has taken a leaf out of the Trinamool's playbook. Mamata Banerjee has always relied on huge rallies to drum up support for her party.
She will attend a rally at Siliguri on the day Modi goes to Kolkata. The next day she will be back to attend a rally in Kolkata.
The Trinamool Congress has found support from the Samajwadi Party in Uttar Pradesh. Akhilesh Yadav had lambasted Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath for his divisive politics that harps on “Love Jihad” and “cattle smuggling” in West Bengal.
Yadav said he would do everything to thwart BJP’s sinister mission in West Bengal.
He said Samajwadi Party vice president Kiranmayi Nanda would coordinate the party’s activities in West Bengal. RJD leader Tejaswi Yadav from Bihar also went to Kolkata to offer his party’s support for the Trinamool Congress.