Buddha returns to Nandigram outskirts amid cheers

Former CM says he wanted Nandigram to become industrialised like Haldia

14 kilometres from the Ground Zero of the Nandigram movement where police opened fire on villagers four years ago over the land acquisition issue, former chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharya on Saturday in a bid to win the hearts and minds of the locals said that his Left Front government wanted to make Nandigram industrialised like Haldia.

At a huge rally in Chandipur ahead of the panchayat elections, Bhattacharya said: "We wanted another Haldia in Nandigram. In Haldia, 30,000 workers have got employment and 60 factories have come up. Can anyone say that we have done anything wrong in Haldia?"

The senior CPM leader, who has been blamed for the mishandling of the situation, did not fail to mention the infamous police firing that killed 14 people and triggered a chain of events culminating in the ouster of the Left Front government after its 34 years of rule. "Police went to Nandigram not to kill people but to stop the Maoists from capturing the villages," he said.

"All of a sudden, a campaign started in Nandigram that we will capture all the land forcefully and displace all the people. Within one month notice was issued by Nandigram Block Office that no land will be taken away. Despite this announcement, trouble started and Sonachura in Nandigram became an armory of the Maoists. Police did not go to Nandigram to take away land but to stop trouble. But unfortunately, eight people were killed in police firing and six in stone a throwing incident. We did not want to open fire or to kill people," Bhattacharya said at the rally. "Now, Nandigram is exactly where it was earlier. Nothing has happened and nothing will happen there," he added.

The turnout of the people to hear the former CM speak was so huge that Bhattacharya's car could not reach the venue. He had to wriggle his way through the crowd on a motorbike.

Coming down heavily on the Trinamool Congress, which catapulted to political prominence through the Nandigram agitation, Bhattacharya said the state government has failed to stop farmers from committing suicide.

"Everything in villages is getting collapsed. We had never thought of such a situation. Last year, many farmers committed suicide because they could not sell rice at minimum support price. When we were in power, we engaged Self Help Groups to procure paddy. There is no one to procure paddy in Murshidabad, Burdwan and Birbhum. How can a government tell its farmers to commit suicide?" he asked.

Slamming the Trinamool government for deteriorating law and order situation in the state, the CPM leader said not only the activists of the Left parties, even "Trinamool is now attacking Trinamool". "They are clashing among themselves. What party is this?" he added.

Bhattacharjee said the activities of the government is helping communal forces to rear their heads in West Bengal.

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