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Image of party that 'terrorises' hurt

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  • Published 22.05.08

Singur, May 21: Humbled by the loss of three zilla parishad seats in Singur, CPM leaders admitted that they had failed to explain “properly” to the people the need to acquire land for the Tata Motors project.

“We failed to explain to the people why this state needs industry, why the small-car plant will benefit the area and how that will help the people lead better lives,” said Dibakar Das, a member of the party’s Hooghly district committee. “Trinamul did a much better job with their campaign than we did.”

Das said the violence that accompanied the land acquisition process affected the party. “People here suddenly associated us with terrorising people,” Das said. “This was not true, but somehow that image stuck on. Many thought we were land grabbers and since land is such a sensitive issue, it hurt us.”

But it was not just land acquisition that hit the CPM where it hurt. The turmoil over the alleged plot by former Singur zonal secretary Suhrid Dutta to rape and murder Trinamul activist Tapasi Malik, too, had tarnished the party’s image.

“The Opposition had launched a whisper campaign, telling voters that people in our party were rapists and killers,” said Balai Sabui, the CPM district secretariat member who was in charge of the party’s Singur election campaign. “Some people, unfortunately, believed in this campaign. But I seriously believe that the people are not against industrialisation.”

Encouraged by the win, the Trinamul-led Save Farmland Committee, which had been spearheading the anti-acquisition campaign here, vowed to intensify its demand that the land taken away be returned.

The world’s first Rs 1-lakh car is slated to roll out of the plant in a few months.

Committee leader Becharam Manna, who was elected to the panchayat samiti, said: “Our movement will get a new lease of life.”

Following the zilla parishad trend, Trinamul won 37 of the 45 seats in the Singur panchayat samiti.

The family of Tapasi Malik said her death had been avenged. “Her death did not go in vain,” said her mother Molina. “Her soul can now rest in peace.”