Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Singur : Who will answer the unanswered questions

With heavyweights like Medha Patkar and her ilk joining the protest against land acquisition at Singur, Mamta Bannerji's movement seems to be gaining momentum. However as expected, what's missing from the movement is the agenda itself. After the Didi joined the movement and took it to bench-breaking heights with her grand show at the West Bengal Vidhansabha, we haven't heard anything as to what the farmers at Singur wanted.

No-one from her camp talked about what were the alternates that the opposition wants the government to consider. In fact there were hardly any dialogues between them about the issue other than news bytes thrown at eachother. All that is left of the movement now is Didi and her personal vendetta against the Left Front.

All that Mamta wants is to gain back her lost foothold in West Bengal politics. To do that all she needs to portray herself as the savior for the down-trodden. The draconian manner with which the government was acquiring agricultural land provided her the right opportunity for her to jump her guns. As the political battle-lines were drawn and swords are crossed, the major questions wherein lies the cause-remedy of the whole issue are receiving little or no attention.

How the entry of newer industry into the West Bengal will take place?
No answer yet.
Will a total back-bending posture ensure the flow of capital or shall we try to weigh the benefits and drawbacks of the proposals in the long term?
No answer yet.
Are the SEZ(Special Economic Zone)s the only way to go or there are alternatives ?

No answer yet.
How were the compensation package determined ? Why it was below the market price for these lands ?
No answer yet.
How will the balance between this newer industry and the people displaced take place?

No answer yet.

One of the reasons we need government machinery is to strike the balance between the capitalist greed and the welfare of the people. Left to them, capitalists would bend every rule in the book to boost the profits and outdo the competitors. That's where the checks and regulations by government are brought in so that in the long run it's a win-win situation of all.

The pro-people CPI-M seems to overlook some of these basic reasons that they justified their parliamentarian struggle as opposed to a revolutionary communist fight against the state. In their willingness to make the Sonar Bangla dream come true they are loosing the perspective of the bigger picture and its responsibility towards the people.

There's no point in denying that at its present economic scenario, West Bengal cannot afford to loose any capital that comes in. The state has lost its credentials a long time back and every effort spent now in regaining that should be applauded. It’s high time to shed away the dogmatism and militant protests and try to join the economic boom that the rest of India is enjoying.

Still what remains unchanged is that the government cannot turn back its face from those who will be displaced due to setting up of newer industrial zones. As the citizens of the state, we ought to know that why the fertile multi-corp yielding land in Singur was the only choice for this Tata factory. The government needs to reveal whether there were other alternative plots considered and what were the reasons for discarding them. Government also needs to disclose if there are any plans that it has to help the displaced farmers to resettle and find means of livelihood.

Unfortunately Buddha-babu and his fellow ministers have left an aura of mystery over these unanswered questions. That's the main reason why Mamta has able to hijack the movement and use it for her own welfare. Going by her past records of how she stood beside the evicted hawkers or the jute-mill workers, it won't be long she'll resort to even more violent tactics to attract more news byte. CPI-M will do what it does best - find an equally befitting answer with its cadres going on a rampage.

Lost amongst the logger-heads of the black-n-white of politics, the very reason for the movement the fate of the displaced farmers will hang on a thread that'll snap the moment Mamta sees another greater news-grabbing opportunity elsewhere. That's where it hurts the most and that's where concerned people dedicated to the cause should apply the balm. Sadly none of our present day politicians seem to fit the bill.

Update: It seems good sense is prevailing in Buddha camp over the compensation to those left jobless. Let's hope for a win-win situation for all, but as the sceptic part of me reminds its optimistic counterpart "If wishes were horses....."

No comments: