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Business News/ Politics / From Singur to Sandeshkhali: ‘Land grab’ that brought Mamata Banerjee to power, now challenges TMC in Bengal
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From Singur to Sandeshkhali: ‘Land grab’ that brought Mamata Banerjee to power, now challenges TMC in Bengal

Singur and Nandigram upheaval led to Mamata Banerjee's rise to power in West Bengal, ending CPI(M)'s 34-year rule. Recent Sandeshkhali turmoil, involving land grab and sexual assault allegations, could challenge TMC's governance.

Kolkata: Key rings featuring West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee being sold during 'dharna' staged by TMC, in Kolkata, Sunday (PTI)Premium
Kolkata: Key rings featuring West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee being sold during 'dharna' staged by TMC, in Kolkata, Sunday (PTI)

Singur, and Nandigram saw the downfall of the 34 year governance of the Communist Party of (India) in West Bengal. The Singur and Nandigram debacle also saw Mamata Banerjee, supremo of Trinamool Congress (TMC) win election and take the seat of governance. Mamata Banerjee's biggest poll agenda was - Land Grab. 

Maa, Maati, Manush" (Mother, land, people) was Mamata Banerjee's call for claiming the West Bengal government, where she has been winning since, pushing the erstwhile CPI(M) into near oblivion. 

However, the recent Sandeshkhali debacle that includes accusations of land grab and sexual assault on women could potentially become the antagonist in the political supremacy of the TMC supremo. 

Let's take a look 

Singur and Nandigram 

A firebrand politician who claimed to be fighting for the ‘Maatir Manush’ (people at the 'ground level) emerges as the Achilles Heel for the Buddhadev Bhattacharya-led CPI(M) government in West Bengal. 

Mamata Banerjee, then opposition, claimed to be fighting for land owners 'who did not want to sell their land to the West Bengal Government or Tata Motors". Banerjee claimed the land was fertile and therefore began a protest against land acquisition in Singur against the Left Front government in West Bengal. 

The long-drawn movement by Mamata Banerjee between 2006 and 2008 against alleged "forcible" takeover of "fertile" land for Tata Motors' ' 1 lakh car' (Nano) project brought gained her a seat as the Chief Minister in West Bengal in the next election.

Nandigram land grab row emerged at the same time. Here farmers protested land acquisition for a chemical hub. In Nandigram too Mamata Banerjee spearheaded the protests and sat on a 25-day hunger strike, emerging as the champion of the downtrodden.

The land grab that became the cornerstone for Trinamool Congress's poll cry, has now become the bugbear Mamata Banerjee needs to deal with in Sandeshkhali when the Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) is leaving no stone unturned to oppose the TMC supremo. 

Sandeshkhali

Agitation against forcible land grab has put Sandeshkhali in the Sunderbans in the centre stage. While the Sandeshkhali unrest has been centred around protests by women against alleged sexual atrocities by strongman and Trinamool Congress leader Shahjahan Sheikh and his aides, the agitation had started off against forcible land grab.

The farmers claimed that the saga of grabbing agricultural land and turning it into fisheries started in 2019 after Sheikh was made in-charge of the district's fishery development.

In a video that has gone viral on X, a woman said, "Our land is grabbed in the name of lease. They made fisheries on the land. For the last 3 years, they have not paid the lease money. When we demand money, they threaten us."

The land of those who didn't want to part with it, was rendered uncultivable by pumping salt water, another woman said.

BJP following Mamata's method from Singur, Nandigram?

Prime Minister Narendra Modi is likely to visit Sandeshkhali on 6 March. The way BJP leaders including Sukanta Majundar, Suvendu Adhikari, Locket Chatterjee have increased pressure on the TMC by visiting Sandeshkhali, it feels like the saffron party is only taking a leaf out of the Mamamta Banerjee's political career biography. 

In the past couple of weeks, Sukanta Majumdar and Suvendu Adhikari, have repeatedly tried to enter Sandeshkhali and clashed with police.

BJP leaders were also seen squatting on the highway, just as then opposition leader Mamata Banerjee did during the Singur-Nandigram agitation.

Notably, like Nandigram followed Singur, in 2024 landgrab accusations are not only erupting from Sandeshkhali, Howrah's Panchla is also seeing a similar agitation. 

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Sayantani Biswas
Sayantani is an editor with Livemint. She covers stories of International and Indian politics, conflict
Catch all the Politics News and Updates on Live Mint. Download The Mint News App to get Daily Market Updates & Live Business News.
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Published: 23 Feb 2024, 02:44 PM IST
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