ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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SOS from Nandigram

The killing of protesting villagers in Nandigram by a trigger-happy police on March 14 sounds an alarm bell that sends a warning not only to the Left Front regime of West Bengal where the tragedy occurred, but to all those at the helm of affairs in both the centre and other states, who irrespective of their party affiliation, are fond of riding roughshod over public opposition, for the sake of “economic growth” – the catchword in today’s official discourse of liberalisation.

The developments in Nandigram should not be treated as something coming out of the blue. The air was already heavy with signs of the approaching storm. The sequence of events exposes both the political myopia of an overconfident and arrogant ruling party and the inhuman indifference to public concerns by its administration – features shared in common by state governments, whether based inBhubaneshar, Jaipur , Hyderabad or Gandhinagar. When the West Bengal government initially announced its plan to acquire land at Nandigram for the setting up of a chemical hub, it immediately provoked protests from among the affected villagers – the majority of them incidentally being supporters of the ruling CPI(M). But the party chose to ignore the signs of discontent in Nandigram, and also failed to take lessons from the popular outburst that had already challenged the ham-handed efforts of its administration to acquire land in Singur for the Tata car factory a few months ago. Instead of correcting its past mistakes, the CPI(M) in Nandigram persisted in ramrodding the drive for industrialisation, without caring to take into confidence the affected villagers. The Haldia Development Authority (under which Nandigram falls and is headed by the local CPI(M) MP), went ahead by issuing a circular declaring its unilateral decision to acquire land for the project. A smug party leadership apparently assumed that since the villagers had voted for the Left, they would meekly submit to the orders issued from above.

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