It was a hot day in August 2008 and Trinamool Congress founder Mamata Banerjee had just delivered a fiery speech against the state’s CPI(M) government. The issue was Singur, the venue too. The farmers in the small town 40 km from Calcutta had faced the administration’s forceful land acquisition for Tata Motors to set up a ‘Nano’ car-manufacturing unit. The Opposition Trinamool had constructed a makeshift stage blocking the entrance to the factory gate, from where Mamata launched a 16-day, non-stop protest rally.
Speech over, as she settled down for an interview to Outlook, Mamata turned to an elderly gentleman sitting beside her on a wooden cot perched on the stage. “You see, I am taking everyone along in this struggle,” she told him, smilingly. Of course, she was taking everyone along. From members of Bengal’s civil society to the CPI(M)’s erstwhile supporters, the masses. So why did Mamata single out this particular supporter in her entourage of protesters who eventually drove Tata out from Bengal, followed closely by the CPI(M) government itself?