October 25, 2008


A Bengal AIKS Document

All India Kisan Council condemns the disruptive and violent activities of Trinamul Congress led anti-LF combine in West Bengal that forced withdrawal of Tata Motors Ltd (TML) from Singur after 85% of work in the small car factory had been completed. It may be recalled that the agreement between WB Government and Tata Motors Ltd on setting up the cheapest car manufacturing industry in the world was signed on 9th March, 2007 and details of the conditions of agreement were reported to the State Assembly within one week on 15th March, 2007 and text of agreement had been finally been put on the website on behalf of the government.

Only 997 acres of land was given on lease TML and 55 ancillary units against their demand of 1100 acres and on estimated requirement of 1280 acres going by the standard prescribed by NATRIP ( National Automotive Testing and R&D infrastructure Project), a Central Government Undertaking specialised in this job. This can be compared with quantum of land under occupation of comparable factories elsewhere in the country i.e. Maruti of Gurgaon – 1250 acres, Tata Motors at Pune 1100 acres, Mahindra and Mahindra at Mumbai – 1060 acres etc. The land acquired for this purpose was mostly mono-crop and waterlogged and compensation over 160% of market value was paid to the land-losers.

The legality of the procedure was upheld by Calcutta High Court. 10852 out of 13103 land losers i.e. 82.8 % had already voluntarily taken their compensation in spite of threat intimidation of TMC, SUCI, Naxalite groups. They did not attend any of the All Party meetings convened at the districts or state –level and finally declared to start indefinite Dharna from 24th August, 2008 demanding return of 400 acres of lands from the project site where construction has already taken place though only 167 acres of belong to the landlosers, who had not taken compensation.

Ms Mamata Banerjee refused to sit with CM who had written two letters inviting her for discussion for an amicable solution; she also refused to respond to Tata’s letter offering their readiness to discuss the issue. She of course, sent a team of TMC, SUCI, Naxalite etc. leaded by the leader of opposition on 20th August which assured CM and Industry Minister to continue discussion, submit a list of so-called ‘unwilling farmers,’ demanding return of land and maintain peace at the site of dharna.

All these assurances were blatantly violated, and Mamata with aid and abetment from a section of the Naxalites, the SUCI, the Samajwadi Party general secretary Amar Singh, Anuradha Talwarkar, Medha Patkar, and such like minded people made provocative speeches from dharna manch, indulging an illegal blockade of the National Highway (NH) 6. Their followers resorted wantonly to intimidation and violence on the workers, engineers, and security and media persons, finally forcing them to suspend their work temporarily and withdraw from the work site.

Police and local LF workers showed utmost restraint and foiled their every effort to provoke a bloodbath so that they could cash in on any eventuality of casualty including mortality. However, increasingly, the popular opinion started to fulminate against her manoeuvrings of these lowly kinds. This development compelled her to approach the Governor of Bengal for what can be termed a ‘bail-out.’ She also agreed to discuss the issue emerging out of the Singur impasse with the state LF government with participatory presence of the Bengal Governor as, so he himself claimed, a ‘facilitator.’

After a two-day-long discussion with ministers of the LF government whose ranks included the industries minister Nirupam Sen and the Panchayat minister Surjya Mishra, there was a one-day worth of dialogue between Mamata Banerjee and Bengal chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee. An agreement was finally produced on 7 September 2008 and the dharna was withdrawn.

However, as is her wont, very soon after the meetings, Mamata Banerjee while briefing the media at Raj Bhavan itself iterated the demand of 400 acres of land to be given from within the perimeter of the project area itself, thus completely ignoring the instrument of agreement signed. Bengal chief minister launched another initiative on 12 September to have another round frank parley with the leader of the main opposition party. This discussion did take place and here the chief minister placed a comprehensive compensation-rehabilitation package that brought within it beneficent ambit a wide cross-section of the people of the area.

This package offered seventy acres of land within project area for an economic rehabilitation of the land losers. An additional component of 50% as compensation was provided to the land losers as well the bargadars in cash value for the land acquired. An assurance was set in place for guarantee of employment of one person per family of land losers provided of course that there were none in the family employed. 300 days’ worth of work was pledged for the khet mazdoors and unrecorded bargadars. This was topped by a comprehensive development programme of the affected area.

Mamata Banerjee not unexpectedly turned down the package on offer. The state LF government had no other alternative, thus, left but to air the package in the dailies on 14 September. The Bengal Left Front organised a massive rally at Singur that drew lakhs of people on 15 September in support of the package.

The next day, Mamata Banerjee and her cohorts held a meeting of around a thousand-odd people (also at Singur) and opposed the package. The state LF government convened an all-party meeting on 30 September, which was boycotted, by the TMC and the SUCI. Congress did attend the meeting but preferred to emote a dubious position, virtually encouraging the disruptive role of the Trinamuli combine.

It is against this background as a whole that Shri Ratan Tata finally declared the decision to move out of Bengal and relocate the small car Nano project elsewhere despite the comprehensive assurance of support given and expressed by the state LF government. Shri Tata squarely blamed Mamata Banerjee for the disruptive activities that compelled him to withdraw from Singur and Bengal. He also hinted at the support given to her by some corporate houses. Presently, Mamata Banerjee has issued a call for a march onto the Kolkata Police HQ at Lal Bazar, to be followed by a rush on the Writers’ Buildings, clearly the aim being to precipitate disorder through gratuitous violence.

The Bengal unit of the AIKS was in the midst of campaign throughout this period, and it has taken up a detailed programme intense campaign following Tata’s withdrawal. The programme includes interactive meetings with the people in every village, responding to questions the villagers will prefer to put up. The AIKS shall rally the peasantry in their entirety and other sections of the democratic masses in the struggle against the reactionary combine disrupting every effort at industrialisation and such other developmental activities as construction of roads, power stations, and irrigation projects etc.

The Kisan Sabha has also taken up a campaign-movement for implementation of the Tribal Forest Act, NREGA, Sarba Siksha and Sarba Swasthya Avijan, SHG movement, and programmes relating to the increase of production and productivity in agriculture as well as all issues involving the peasantry, with jathas culminating in rallies to be held in every district in November.

The AIKS coveys its solidarity to the Bengal peasantry in this struggle and firmly resolves to take up the campaign all over the country as well.

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