Will BJP be able to replicate the Nandigram model in Sandeshkhali?

Kolkata: As Sandeshkhali, a conglomerate of islands in North 24 Parganas district of West Bengal, continues to boil over agitation of local women against the sexual harassment of local Trinamool Congress leader, the BJP has gone all out to replicate the Nandigram model in Sandeshkhali.

During the Nandigram movement, the incumbent Leader of the Opposition (LoP) Suvendu Adhikari (then in Trinamool Congress) became an pivot around which the movement shaped and took place, forcing one of the most regimented ruling regime in the history of India — 34 years of Left Front rule — first to bend, then to collapse and finally face a dishonorable exit from the state’s political landscape.

The BJP now dreams to replicate the same Nandigram-model in Sandeshkhali against the ruling Trinamool Congress.

“Be it Nandigram or Sandeshkhali, the movement is against rulers’ boisterous autocracy. The common factors remain the same which are: forceful land grabbing, harassment of women and suppressing the democratic space. These factors have led to spontaneous outburst of mass outrage,” (LoP) Suvendu Adhikari explained.

Land grabbing is a common and root issue in both Nandigram and Sandeshkhali, however, with a difference. The tension in Nandigram flickered from an official government notification from the local Haldia Development Authority (HDA) expressing the intention of land acquisition for a petrochemicals hub to be incorporated by Indonesia-based Salim Group.

The notification was enough to flicker the fear of losing farmland among the local people which subsequently led to a spontaneous mass movement against the then ruling Left Front led by Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee.

At that point, the Trinamool Congress entered the scene and Mamata Banerjee became the face of the Nandigram movement.

In the case of Nandigram, the land acquisition never actually took place. The then Chief Minister Buddhadeb Battacharjee himself announced the withdrawal of the notification which had ignited the movement.

However, it was too late for him and for his party to regain the peoples’ confidence, resulting in collapse of the ‘Red Fort’ first during the 2009 Lok Sabha polls and then the subsequent eviction of 34-year rule of Left Front in the 2011 assembly elections.

In the case of Sandeshkhali, there are cases of unofficial, forceful and illegal grabbing of farmland and illegally converting them into pisciculture farms by forcefully flowing in saline water.

Those infuriating zealots blindfolded by the patronage of the ruling dispensation have resorted to blatant sexual harassment and violence against the local women for almost a decade now.

LoP Suvendu Adhikari said that the secrets of illegal land grabbing and harassment of women would have never come to light had the ED and CAPF personnel not been attacked by a crowd allegedly orchestrated by the absconding Trinamool Congress leader on January 5.

The Trinamool leader Sheikh Shahjahan has gone into hiding since January 5, giving courage to the local people, especially women, to hit the streets and narrating the gory tales of forceful land grabbing and sexual harassment by the ruling government.

The spontaneous mass uprising of the local women at Sandeshkhali has now opened the avenues for BJP to enter the scene at Sandeshkhali, a virtual fortress of Trinamool Congress since last one decade.

Just like the Nandigram movement, Suvendua Adhikari has again emerged as the vanguard in shaping and leading the protest against the incumbent ruling dispensation.

Political observers find another resemblance between the Nandigram and Sandeshkhali movements that is: “what happened” or “what is happening” is nothing but an “orchestrated propaganda against the ruling dispensation jointly led by the opposition and a section of the media.”

“History teaches us that fortresses do fall. Nandigram was the key component leading to the collapse of the 34-year regime of Left Front rule in West Bengal. Time will decide whether Sandeshkhali will turn to be the waterloo for Trinamool Congress or not,” a city- based political observer said.


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