BeyondHeadlines Special Correspondent
Kolkata, West Bengal: The battle to win West Bengal assembly elections is getting fierce. While the Left is focusing on agricultural reforms to woo the rural vote bank, the Trinamool Congress is trying hard to shed its anti-industry image.
Crop failure and mounting debts has driven 42-year-old farmer Prabir Datta to end his life in Burdwan the rice bowl of Bengal. He is the fourth farmer to take the extreme step in the last 12 months.
As a result, the Left fortress, which remained unconquered for 34 years, is shaken. The promises of agricultural reform which heralded the CPM era, is far from being delivered.
“How will we eat, all our money goes in paying interests,” said a farmer.
It’s the pro-industrial policy that alienated the important rural vote bank from the Left, triggering the downslide since 2008 Panchayat elections.
In 2011, the Left dosen’t want to take chances. They have already signaled their strategy, and agricultural reforms will now be their first priority.
But it’s a role reversal for Trinamool chief Mamata Banerjee – she is trying to shed her anti-industry image.
Nandigram, the site of brutal carnage of 14 innocent villagers after the Left Front government’s failed attempt to forcibly acquire land for a chemical hub, now speaks a different story. The abandoned factory site closed for almost 2 decades is where Mamata Banerjee proposes to build a new wagon factory. After four years, Rashbehari Khara and his wife, who suffered bullet injuries and saw their own die, say they don’t oppose this project.
“We are not opposed to the project, we can also give couple of acres if needed,” said Rashbehari Khara.
In Nandigram, 14 innocent villagers were gunned down by police forces four years ago, which went down in the history of Bengal as Nandigram carnage, a moment, which signaled Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee’s downward plunge and simultaneous surge of Mamata Banerjee. As Bengal moves towards its most defining elections both the leaders are now approaching a cautious middle path for the race to Writers.