A BJP lawmaker on Saturday held Mamata Banerjee’s Singur movement responsible for the lack of industries in Bengal but stayed mum on the Nandigram protest around the same time led by then Trinamul strongman and now BJP MLA Suvendu Adhikari.
“Due to mistakes made by the Left Front government and the militant agitation of current chief minister Mamata Banerjee, the Tatas left Singur,” BJP’s chief whip Manoj Tigga told the Assembly during a discussion on the budget for the industries department.
The Singur and Nandigram movements are deemed turning points in Bengal politics.
The twin movements against the Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee government’s acquisition of farmland for industries culminated in Mamata in 2011 dislodging the Left Front government that ruled Bengal for 34 years.
Though both Singur and Nandigram left an impact on Bengal’s industrial prospects, Tigga, the BJP MLA from Madarihat in north Bengal, chose to tag the former as a militant movement and kept quiet on the other.
Tigga did make a passing reference to Nandigram when he spoke on the Mamata government’s proposed coal mine project in Birbhum’s Deocha Pachami.
“During (the) Nandigram (movement) Opposition leaders, the human rights commission and journalists could visit the area. But nobody is allowed entry in Deocha Pachami,” he said.
While Mamata was the face of the movements, East Midnapore native Adhikari was the key player in organising peasants in Nandigram. The Trinamul turncoat defeated Mamata in the 2021 Assembly polls by a slim margin to become the Nandigram MLA.
Left parties were quick to accuse the BJP of double standard and sought to remind the party about its role during the Singur and Nandigram agitations.
CPM leader Samik Lahiri reminded Tigga about BJP leader Rajnath Singh coming to Calcutta in December 2006 to express solidarity with Mamata’s agitation against Tata’s Nano factory in Singur.
Lahiri held both the BJP and Trinamul responsible for the lack of industries in Bengal. “Neither wants Bengal to progress,” he said.
Trinamul accused Tigga of “duplicity” in dubbing the Singur movement as the reason for the lack of industries in Bengal.
Trinamul state secretary and spokesperson Kunal Ghosh said: “They are criticising Singur and downplaying Nandigram... pledging loyalty to the Nandigram movement publicly but moving court to reopen cases against agitators filed by the erstwhile Left Front government.”
BJP sources said the reason for Tigga’s silence on Nandigram had much to do with Adhikari’s link with protests against the acquisition of farmland.
Adhikari has often claimed support of the families of the 14 killed in police firing on March 14, 2007. After he went to the BJP in December 2020, he boasted of being the brain behind the agitation in Nandigram in a bid to show Mamata’s role in poor light.