Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Singur under siege

Is Singur under siege?
Tuesday, December 05, 2006 22:55 IST
There is a growing perception that Naxals are taking over the anti-Tata Motors agitation from Mamata Banerjee

KOLKATA: The 24-hour bandh on Tuesday by Naxalite organisations and SUCI may have fallen flat in West Bengal, but the emergence of urban youths inspired by Naxalism at the forefront of the opposition of Tata Motors small car project in the state is proving ominous for both the government and Opposition leader Mamata Banerjee.

Distinct from rural Maoist extremists in the districts, the city-bred Naxal sympathisers, who are heading for Singur to oppose taking over of farm land for industry may be small in number right now, but possibilities of a Naxal revival in Bengal campuses is haunting both chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattachary as well as Mamata Banerjee.

For the state administration, the Naxals have added a new dimension since usual administrative and policing measures adopted to tackle Maoists in the districts will not do within city limits. As for Mamta Banerjee, these Naxals threaten to hijack her sole political slogan to beat the leftists with.

The Trinamul chief had once made common cause with Maoists in Midnapore, ahead of elections only to be left in the lurch by them to face full brunt of left organisations after electoral drubbing.

However, the resurrected Naxalite fragment has been successful in shifting the focus on the Singur issue from Mamata as is evident from two recent events — the Saturday police-agitator skirmish at Singur and Monday’s vandalism at a Kolkata’s Tata Motors’ showroom. In both cases, educated students from different universities owing alliance to the Naxalites were in the forefront brushing aside activists of the Trinamool-founded ‘Singur Krishijami Raksha Committee’.

The Trinamool Congress students’ wing, Trinamool Chattra Parishad (TCP), however, overruled the possibility that Naxalites are hijacking the issue. According to TCP state chief, Baishwanar Chatterjee, the Naxalite faction in West Bengal does not have the strength to organise a statewide protest on this issue.

“Our party chief has also called for an all-party movement on this issue. That is why we are organising joint protest but Trinamool is in the leadership position on that issue,” Chatterjee said.

For chief minister Buddhadev Bhattacharjee, the big question is how to counter this new movement. The Monday vandalism at the Tata showroom has shifted the focus from the agriculture versus industry debate to law and order issues.

“We have found out that the Naxal outfit Revolutionary Socialist Front was behind Monday’s vandalism. We strongly condemn the incident,” the chief minister said.

On one hand, he is unable to counter these neo-Naxals politically as he had done in case of Mamata, since their movement is not restricted to “dandi march” or fasting, but violence.

On the other, a full-fledged police action is not possible, since that can give a political advantage to these Naxalites considering the time and issue they are agitating on.

More security for Tata showrooms

DNA Correspondent

A youth flees after vandalising the car showroom in Calcutta on Tuesday.

KOLKATA: Security of all the Tata Motors’ showrooms and outlets throughout West Bengal is now the priority of the state, after the vandalism at such a showroom by activists of Naxal-affiliated Revolutionary Students’ Front (RSF) at the state capital on Monday.

DCP PK Chattopadhyay said, all the major showrooms and outlets of Tata Motors have been identified and police have been instructed to keep a close watch on such outlets.

Special police guards would also be deputed at these showrooms if necessary, he said.

He also said arrangements would be made for smaller outlets once they are identified.

However, the police could not yet arrest those RSF agitators involved with the Monday vandalism.

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