Vinod Mubayi


Mamata Banerjee’s Trinamool Congress succeeded in harnessing the services of all kinds of allies, from leftists to do-gooder environmentalists, to oppose West Bengal’s attempt to facilitate the Indian industrialists Tata in setting up an auto factory in Singur near Kolkata. The protests led to Tata withdrawing from West Bengal and going to Gujarat of Narendra Modi. Are these leftists going to stop Tata’s Nano auto factory in Gujarat or are they only going to relish the defeat of the Communist Party of India-Marxist?



Three years ago, the Tatas decided to make a major investment in producing automobiles in West Bengal.  The CPM-led state government enthusiastically cheered Tata’s decision and actively helped the company to acquire 1000 acres of farmland at Singur to set up the plant.  It was expected that any policy decision and program of CPM would be actively opposed and obstructed by Trinamool Congress and its noisemaking leader Mamata Banerjee. However, the reaction and subsequent actions of a section of do-gooder environmentalists and left intellectuals and their loudly voiced opposition to the whole venture brought matters to a different plane.  Some environmentalists were opposed, narodnik-style, to the conversion of agricultural land to industrial use.  Others were opposed to making cars, symbols of conspicuous consumption.  All were, however, sternly opposed to the CPM and its policy of encouraging industrial capitalist development at the expense of traditional farming.  This intellectual opposition provided the oxygen, as it were, to the rabble-rousing Mamata Banerjee’s efforts to defeat CPM by derailing the Singur project.


Ratan Tata, who had planned to produce at Singur what was billed as a very innovative low-cost car, the Nano, which had gained worldwide publicity and attention, waited patiently for some time while the politics played itself out.  Ultimately, however, he said that due to the continuous harassment of Tata workers and employees by Mamata’s supporters he was giving up on Singur and relocating the project to Gujarat, where he was offered a better deal by its no-nonsense, business-friendly Fuhrer, Narendra Modi. At that point, some of the left intellectuals suddenly woke up and cried ‘foul’.  Wasn’t Ratan Tata aware of the massacre of minorities there in 2002, they asked?  Doesn’t he know the Tatas are an enlightened industrial group driven by considerations larger than profit?


However much one may deplore Tata’s decision to lend more respectability and clout to Modi, one can hardly deny that Tata selected left-ruled West Bengal first for the project and waited a long time while the same intellectuals poured vitriolic criticism on CPM and Tata for daring to oust traditional farmers from Singur and establish an industry there. Their criticism of Tata now is hardly credible given their previous stand and they need to do some serious introspection of the impacts of their own past actions and statements.  

Top - Home