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regular-article-logo Tuesday, 16 April 2024

‘Don’t make that mistake’: Mamata Banerjee bristles at Nandigram parallel

'Listen, Singur is Singur. Nandigram is Nandigram…. Every place has its own distinct identity, remember this. Therefore, comparing one with another, fomenting riots… don’t make that mistake'

Meghdeep Bhattacharyya Calcutta Published 29.02.24, 05:41 AM
Mamata Banerjee at a government event at Khatra in Bankura district on Wednesday.

Mamata Banerjee at a government event at Khatra in Bankura district on Wednesday. PTI picture

Chief minister Mamata Banerjee on Wednesday appeared to caution against making the “mistake” of comparing the Sandeshkhali developments with the anti-land acquisition movements she had spearheaded in Nandigram and Singur.

“Listen, Singur is Singur. Nandigram is Nandigram…. Every place has its own distinct identity, remember this. Therefore, comparing one with another, fomenting riots… don’t make that mistake,” Mamata said during a state government event in Bankura in the afternoon.

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Although she did not mention Sandeshkhali, it was clear that the Trinamul Congress chief was referring to the fervent attempts by the BJP to brand the public anger over Sandeshkhali as Mamata’s “Nandigram-Singur” moment, implying this could well turn out to be her Waterloo.

“They only lie and spread canards, abusing only those who work. I do so much work, and they only abuse me. I tell them do as much as you can, abuse me as much as you want. I do not care. As long as the people are with me, I will never care about your abuses,” the chief minister said.

“I do not want any bloodshed anywhere, any torture anywhere. Those who have been going about making lofty claims, should I open the bhandar (trove)? There is so much saved in my bhandar. Slowly, when I open it, you will understand… what is correct, what isn’t,” she added, apparently referring to the likes of her bete noire, the BJP leader Suvendu Adhikari.

Mamata Banerjee addresses a government event in Bankura on Wednesday.

Mamata Banerjee addresses a government event in Bankura on Wednesday. Picture by Rupesh Khan

Last week, Nandigram MLA Adhikari had publicly likened the situation in Sandeshkhali to Nandigram of 2007-08. The saffron camp has already launched a campaign in which several BJP leaders have drawn parallels between Sandeshkhali, and Singur-Nandigram.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has planned to take the campaign forward by carpet-bombing Bengal with three visits in the first six days of March. On March 6, two days ahead of International Women’s Day, Modi is likely to speak to some of the women “victims” of Sandeshkhali at his Barasat rally.

The fact that the Sandeshkhali allegations against her party’s members have been bothering her was clear when the chief minister emphasised she had zero tolerance for wrongdoings.

“I never favour things that are wrong… not knowingly. I will never knowingly indulge a thing that is wrong. If something happens without our knowledge, that too I don’t endorse… I assist (the affected) in every way possible,” she said, three days after her nephew and heir apparent Abhishek Banerjee virtually disowned Sheikh Shahjahan and two days after leaders close to him set a seven-day deadline for the Sandeshkhali strongman’s arrest.

“I will try my best to help the people. That is my job,” Mamata added.

In her address, Mamata tore into the BJP over the alleged step-motherly treatment of Bengal by the Centre and the attempts to impose the contentious Uniform Civil Code. She said the “true communal face” of the BJP had been exposed, a reference to some leaders of the party allegedly calling IPS officer Jaspreet Singh a “Khalistani”. The chief minister also accused the BJP of mishandling the farmers’ movement.

In what was virtually a call to launch her party’s campaign at the March 10 Jonogorjon (people’s roar) rally at the Brigade Parade Grounds, Mamata asked for the setting aside of differences to close ranks on the saffron juggernaut.

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