By Syeda Shabana Parveen
Nandigram (West Bengal) [India], March 30 (ANI): Despite development, the lack of "Kaaj" (job opportunities) remains the major issue among the people of Nandigram that has become the epicentre of power tussle in poll-bound West Bengal.
Nandigram was instrumental in Mamata Banerjee becoming the chief minister in 2011 by ending the 34-year CPI(M) rule in West Bengal. She had given the leadership to the movement against land acquisition in Nandigram which was about to be made as a Special Economic Zone (SEZ) in 2007 by the Buddhadeb Bhattacharya-led state government.
Taikhali is the place in Nandigram where 14 people lost their lives by alleged police firing during the protest.
More than a decade has passed, the people of Nandigram are now seeking employment and job opportunities. It is the 'kaaj' (job opportunities) that remains to be a major concern in Nandigram.
Speaking to ANI, Namita Bhuiya, who runs a small shop in the village said, "I was a victim of Nandigram movement. My land was never returned back to me. The ruling government has built roads and done other developments. But employment has not been given priority. It is a major concern for all of us. Selling this foodstuff how can I feed and educate my children? The promises are made when the votes are round the corner."
When asked about 'kaaj' (job opportunities) and development, another villager Tapasi Jana said, "We do not understand what does kaaj mean. We are daily wagers. If there was industry then the job would have been there. When it comes to development, it has happened but the interior areas of Nandigram have been neglected."
Remembering the terrifying incidents during the land agitation, an elderly villager SK Akhtar told ANI, "I had a bit of land. We all villagers had protested and did not allow them to take our land. In the past ten years, there had been development in Nandigram. I do not think there is any major issue in Nandigram."
Nandigram will witness the most high-profile contest in the second phase of the state assembly elections to be held on April 1 with the Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee taking on her former ministerial colleague Suvendu Adhikari, who had joined the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in December last year. Mamata is contesting from Nandigram this time and not contesting from her home turf Bhabanipur sea,t making this election more interesting.
The Left Front has fielded Minakshi Mukherjee, the state president of the Democratic Youth Federation of India (DYFI) from Nandigram against Mamata and Adhikari.
All the parties in the poll fray have promised job and employment opportunities in their manifestos. People of Nandigram are hoping that whoever wins will keep the promises made ahead of the polls.
In phase-II, 30 assembly constituencies from the districts of Bankura, South 24 Parganas, Purba Medinipur and Paschim Medinipur will go to polls to decide the fate of 171 candidates including 19 women.
The first phase of the West Bengal Assembly elections concluded with an estimated 79.79 per cent voter turnout on Saturday.
The polling for 31 seats in the third phase of the 294-member state assembly will be held on April 6. The elections for 44 seats will be held in the fourth phase on April 10. Further, in the fifth phase on April 17, 45 seats will go to polls. The sixth phase is scheduled for April 22 when elections for 43 seats will be done. In the seventh phase on April 26, polling will be held for 36 seats. Finally, the eighth phase is scheduled for April 29 when 35 seats will go for polling.
The counting of votes will take place on May 2. (ANI)