| Land clearing on in Singur for Tata car plant. Picture by Pradip Sanyal.
Calcutta, Dec. 1: Today was not the time to choose from among Tata, atta and Mamata but to take notice if the Trinamul leader’s supporters had made a choice of their own.
The statistics tell their story.
Police said all the 257 bandh supporters arrested in Calcutta during the day had been picked up from “certain pockets” of the south, like Hazra, Kalighat and Ballygunj, Mamata Banerjee’s strongholds. “In the rest of the city, there was hardly anyone trying to enforce the bandh,” they added.
Where were the Trinamul supporters who usually pour out on the streets in response to their leader’s strike call'
“Truth be told,” a senior Trinamul leader confessed, “we did not have the face to tell our cadres to come out on the streets and enforce the bandh after what we did in the Assembly. The extent of the damage to our goodwill has only just begun to sink in and it is with shame we are now realising we should have restrained ourselves from going berserk yesterday.”
Instead of coming out on the streets to enthuse supporters, many Trinamul leaders, some of whom had participated in the Assembly vandalism, spent the day coming to terms with the political harakiri they committed yesterday.
Singur is no longer an issue, the unprecedented destruction in the Assembly is.
Addressing a post-bandh news conference this evening, Mamata asked: “Tata na atta' What do people want' What will they eat if they don’t get atta'”
It was a reference to the acquisition of farmland in Singur for the Tata car factory and the impact it could have on food production.
Still, in the end, even she reluctantly admitted that the incident was “unfortunate”, though quickly qualifying it by saying that it was the result of her being prevented from proceeding to Singur.
“It is no coincidence that today’s Bangla bandh has become a south Calcutta bandh,” a Trinamul MLA said.
“The vandalism in the Assembly has hit us like a hammer. As leaders, we don’t seem to be getting the backing and respect of our young supporters. How can we ask them to come out on the streets' Politically, we have to make some amends.”
As Mamata and her party struggled to explain their act, the administration quietly began the task of driving pegs into the ground at Singur to delineate the land for the Tata project.
“We are left with no option but to regret the incident when the Left Front tables a motion in the Assembly on Monday to condemn our act,” the MLA added.
“That is essential to repair our image. Watching our action replay repeatedly on TV and seeing the media’s condemnation have made this abundantly clear to us.”