As the 'Battle for Singur' rages a different kind of war is being fought out in all its raucous fierceness, far removed from the front lines - that inside the decorated drawing-rooms in Kolkata. The well heeled saheri babus are frothing at their mouths at the outrageous way in which Mamata Banerjee is pushing the entire state back by decades. Some suggest we may end up in the 'Ice Age of Industrialisation' if the Tatas say 'ta ta' to our offered land. Some even speculate the circumstances precipitating a tragic eventuality of another blood-bath in the image of Nandigram. In one word people are really getting worked up now. But then, every one has their reasons for the same.
A moment of thought for the farmer whose land was forcibly taken away from him- The land which he worships, the land which has nourished generations and still hold promise to provide for his children. The land that means much more than the amount stated in the compensation cheques being handed out. To those farmers the opinion of the urban elite is as alien in nature and as repulsive in content as the Octopus Meze served in some upmarket Vegas restaurant. And there can be no two ways about that.
Now for some other pointers.
Ratan Tata, the seasoned businessman that he is, will weigh his options in the light of feasibility under the circumstances. Two thousand crore rupees just cannot be allowed to flow down the drain. Add to it the tremendous promise and publicity that the 1-lac Nano has already generated and you are looking at a very ignominious exit for the first family of Indian industry from Bengal. I reckon his threat is not final. But it is also far from being hollow. The fact that his press-release was timed to perfection helps build pressure on the Trinamool to climbdown from their '400 acres' demand. And till the last reports came in the ice was thawing at places.
For the Tatas, Nano is a prestige issue. Singur isn't. They will do everything to meet their date of the first rollout of the car. A lot depends on it for them, their credibility, bankability and brand status. So, other car-plants (the one in Pantnagar is in the fray) might chip in to 'make the Nano' for them whereas the Singur land gets mired in inextricable political and legal battles in the wake of a complete pullout.
A very important point to note here is that the entire stretch of land that has been acquired( i.e 997 acres to be exact) cannot be doled back to the former holders, unwilling or otherwise according to the recent Land Acquisition Act. So a pullout will only end up being a Pyrrhic victory for the Trinamool Congress that may or may not translate into votes in the coming elections. The political edge will also get reasonably blunted in the urban fronts. Anxious parents in Kolkata have already started propounding conspiracy theories behind their wards' joining dates for TCS getting inordinately delayed. They fear the 'Singur fiasco' behind it all. Ridiculous but true.
The CPI(M) will go all out to project Mamata as 'anti-industry' and 'anti-development' and they will surely have some followers on that issue. Buddhadeb Bhattacharya's 'perestroika' though strongly contended as a policy measure in Alimuddin Street and Delhi will then gather sympathisers as does all reformist lost causes. He will be summarily sidelined and his backers will find it increasingly difficult to pursue his vision for West Bengal. As a whole we will revert back to being a regressive agri-intensive economy and feature at the end of the 'List of Highest Revenue Earning States' and pretend that its only because of the darned alphabetical order thing.
And to end what I started with. All these doesn't at all bother the average farmer. If it does, the state needs to awaken them to the fruits of industrialization first and impress upon them its advantages and gains. If there is a vision it is apparent that it is not shared and hence, this monumental fracas. We cannot afford to forget that we are still a nation of the poor majority. And the poor hardly have vision beyond their arm's stretch. We haven't yet progressed that far so that we could forget that reality.
4 days ago