Voting in Singur peaceful

May 7th, 2009 - 5:08 pm ICT by IANS  

Singur (West Bengal), May 7 (IANS) Voting in West Bengal’s Singur, the former site of Tata’s Nano car factory, was peaceful Thursday as voters queued up outside polling stations, while political activists still debated the impact of the lost project.
The Nano factory, once a beehive of activity, stood abandoned on the busy Durgapur Expressway. Some big containers were seen moving in and out, carrying on the process of dismantling the plant.

There was no sign of tension in this rural pocket, 40 km from here in Hooghly district, which had become globally known for the anti-land acquisition movement against the plant.

Singur, under Hooghly parliamentary constituency, turned into a battleground for about two-and-a-half years from May 2006 when the Left Front state government announced the world’s cheapest car project here.

Demanding return of 400 acres - of the 997.11 acres acquired - to farmers, the state’s opposition party Trinamoool Congress-led protesters laid siege to the plant. Finally, Tata Motors moved the plant to Gujarat’s Sanand last October.

“We will win. The situation here is normal,” sitting Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) MP Rupchand Pal, who is seeking re-election, told IANS, as he made rounds of the booths.

Allaying all apprehensions about poll violence, Pal said: “People can exercise their voting rights in this place freely and fairly.”

The Hooghly parliamentary constituency has elected Pal six times consecutively since 1989. The last time the opposition won was in 1984 when Congress candidate Indumati Bhattacharya scraped past Pal.

In 2004, Pal won over Trinamool nominee Indrani Mukherjee by 165,000 votes, with the Congress coming a distant third.

The Singur assembly seat has, however, been a marginal one, with the opposition and the ruling Left Front both registering victories from time to time. The Trinamool triumphed in the latest assembly polls in 2006. The constituency has over 196,000 voters.

But following the anti-farmland agitation, the Trinamool managed to increase its support base and made a clean sweep of the seats in the area during last year’s rural body polls.

“There are many highly sensitive booths in the Hooghly constituency. We have asked for extra security for those,” said Ratna De Nag, Trinamool candidate of the constituency.

Dibakar Das, a farmer who gave five acres for the Nano project, told IANS: “The popular pulse is in our (CPI-M’s) favour.”

Das believes that “pulling out of the Nano project from Singur is playing a big role” which will be reflected in the electronic voting machines.

Trinamool leader Dudh Kumar Dhara said the polling was peaceful, but countered Das’s view that the CPI-M will win.

“There is no violence in the area so far. People are voting to bring a change (political change) in the state and society. CPI-M has lost its ground over here. People have understood that voting CPI-M will not do them any good,” said Dhara, who is the village council head of Beraberi.

Balai Sabui, a CPI-M leader in Singur, expressed satisfaction with the security arrangements.

“Pulling out of Nano will play a major role in the region. The people are not voting for Trinamool as they have understood if power is transferred to the hands of the opposition the state will not progress.”

Becharam Manna, who floated a forum Krishi Jami Raksha Committee (Singur Save Farmland Committee) to lead the farmer’s movement, complained about security arrangements. But he conceded there was no trace of any violence till now.

“Till now, the election is peaceful. But the Election Commission did not provide enough security in the sensitive booths we asked for, whereas they have given adequate security in the booths the CPI-M wanted,” he said.

“Nano pulling out is not a factor. It will not play any role in the elections,” he asserted.

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