BJP stages protest at Singur as Mamata Banerjee campaigns in Goa

Highlighting agrarian issues, party wants to take the fight to rural Bengal

The West Bengal Bharatiya Janata Party on Tuesday began a three-day protest at Singur highlighting the agrarian distress in the State.

Senior BJP leaders including Leader of the Opposition Suvendu Adhikari, State president Sukanta Majumdar and national vice-president Dilip Ghosh attended an event organised by party Kisan Morcha at a time when Trinamool Congress chairperson and Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee is busy campaigning in Goa.

The BJP leadership highlighted issues of farmers’ distress particularly loss of crops due to floods and rains earlier this month because of the impact of the deep depression in the Bay of Bengal and demanded compensation for the affected farmers.

Wrath of floods

“Several areas of south Bengal have faced the wrath of floods this time. The areas of Hooghly and Howrah, which are part of the Lower Damodar basin, have been inundated not once, twice but three times. After Aman paddy was destroyed, the farmers cultivated potato and vegetables but the untimely rains have destroyed even them,” Mr. Adhikari said.

The BJP leaders demanded compensation to the farmers who have suffered crop loses. Mr. Adhikari threatened a march from Singur to Nabanna (State Secretariat) and asked his party supporters to form Krishak Bachao Committees in their respective areas. Pointing out at the site where the structure of the factory had come up, the BJP MLA said, “Mamata Banerjee has shown how to jeopardise agriculture.”

Singur is synonymous with the fight against forcible land acquisition against Tata Motors small car project which catapulted Ms. Banerjee to power in 2011. While the TMC Government has facilitated the return of land to unwilling farmers, a large part of it at the proposed factory site cannot be cultivated because of concrete.

The BJP’s decision to protest at Singur is not only to raise the issue of the farmers but also take the fight to rural Bengal. Interestingly, the three-day protest comes just before the December 19 elections to the Kolkata Municipal Corporation.

Mr. Majumdar asked why subsidised electricity is not made available to the farmers in the State. He and other leaders took a swipe at the TMC chairperson’s campaign in Goa.

“In Goa, there are many people from districts of West Bengal as migrant workers. The people of Goa must realise that if they support the TMC then they will have to go to other States to work,” Mr. Majumdar said. Many BJP MPs and MLAs were present at the protest venue.

Diversionary tactic: TMC

The TMC leadership asked why the BJP was shying away from campaigning in Kolkata and instead went to Singur.

“It is nothing but a diversionary tactic to go Singur. Even at Singur, the BJP had lost in the Assembly polls,” TMC leader and Minister Firhad Hakim said. Referring to the criticism of Mr. Adhikari, TMC leader Kunal Ghosh said the BJP leader has built his entire political career on the success of the Singur land movement under the leadership of Ms. Banerjee.

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