TMC and BJP locked horns on Tuesday as both parties blamed each other for claiming the legacy of the anti-land acquisition movement at Nandigram on its 16th anniversary.
The BJP, led by the Leader of Opposition Suvendu Adhikari, organised rallies in Nandigram area of Purba Medinipur district to commemorate the day which saw 14 anti-land acquisition protestors killed in police firing in 2007.
"The Nandigram movement was not a movement of any particular party but of the locals. It is a heroic tale of resilience and struggle of the poor people of Nandigram, who fought against the then mighty Left Front. But unfortunately one political party derived benefits from this people's movement," he said in an oblique reference to TMC while offering floral tributes at Gokulnagar to those who died in the police action on that fateful day.
Adhikari, the Nandigram lawmaker who had defected from TMC to the saffron camp ahead of the 2021 assembly polls, took a dig at the Mamata Banerjee government for promoting IPS officers who were responsible for the incident despite being, what he called, the "biggest beneficiary of the political movement".
"I come here every year since 2008 to pay tribute to the sacrifices made by the people of Nandigram. Ironically, those who have given promotions to police officers responsible for Nandigram massacre are now celebrating Nandigram Diwas," he said.
Senior TMC leader and minister Chandrima Bhattacharya visited Nandigram Tuesday morning, paid floral tributes to the martyrs and met their families.
TMC observes March 14 as 'Nandigram Diwas' since it came to power in West Bengal in 2011 to pay its respect to the 14 who were killed in the police firing during the anti-land acquisition stir in the area in 2007.
She hit back at Adhikari's innuendo saying, "We don't need lessons on Nandigram or the movement from traitors. The Nandigram movement would not have happened had Mamata Banerjee not been there. So those trying to appropriate the legacy of Nandigram are insulting the people's movement."
Bhattacharya said the BJP leader and his family were the "biggest beneficiary" of the movement which was led by Banerjee, the TMC supremo.
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee tweeted, "March 14 marks a black day in Bengal's history. It is a grim reminder of the barbaric attacks on hapless farmers of Bengal, of the 14 martyrs of Nandigram and the countless villagers who were subjected to state-sponsored violence".
She claimed that West Bengal is among the top agricultural producers in the country and empowered the country's farmers.
"16 years later, Bengal has emerged as a leading agricultural state that empowers its farmers and enables them to lead dignified lives. Nandigram Diwas is a bold testament to our indomitable fighting spirit and unrelenting zeal to secure every resident of the state," she tweeted.
As the then opposition leader, Banerjee had joined and led the movements against the erstwhile Left Front government's acquisition of arable land in Nandigram and Singur for industrialisation. Adhikari was then her trusted lieutenant in Nandigram Her party TMC reaped rich dividends from the agitations by winning 50 per cent of the panchayat seats in 2008, bagging 19 Lok Sabha seats in 2009 and ending the 34-year-long Left Front rule in the state in 2011.
TMC returned to power for the third successive term in 2021 notwithstanding a high-pitched campaign by the BJP. Banerjee, however, lost to Adhikari in Nandigram. She was later elected from her home seat of Bhabanipur with a record margin in a by-poll held later that year.
Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by The Telegraph Online staff and has been published from a syndicated feed.