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For the books: What are Mamata and Buddhadeb's forthcoming books about?

Sulagna Sengupta | Updated on: 10 February 2017, 1:46 IST

It's the season of political memoirs in Bengal. While Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee is writing a book on the "historic Singur Andolon", her predecessor Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee is said to be documenting the final 10 years of the Left Front's rule.

Mamata's book is likely to be released in January to coincide with the Kolkata International Book Fair, 2017. But there's no word yet on the publication of Bhattacharjee's work.

The "Singur Andolon" book, sources in the Trinamool Congress said, "will highlight the mass movement led by Mamata against the forcible acquisition of farmland" for a Tata factory, and "how she fought to uphold the rights of the farmers.

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Not just the "plight" of farmers whose land was "forcibly taken away by the Left Front regime", the chief minister's book will also talk about the "joy the farmers expressed" after the Supreme Court cancelled the acquisition of land in Singur as well as "their strength to stay back and support Banerjee till the end".

Mamata is also expected to share her "experiences" during the Singur agitation, not least the "attacks" on her allegedly carried out by "CPM workers". In the past, the chief minister has talked about how her car had been damaged by CPM supporters while she was riding towards Singur.

Another night during the Singur Andolan, she allegedly saw an "overloaded truck" approaching the site of her protest, apparently to run over the farmers sleeping there.

"Some events cannot be forgotten," said a senior Trinamool minister. "Her struggle as mass movement leader is something that should be shared with the readers."

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Mamata has often credited her "Singur Andolan" for starting the nationwide debate on the draconian land acquisition law of 1894 that culminated in the drafting of a new legislation.

Tales of a time past

Bhattacharjee, too, will address the Singur and Nandigram agitations in his book, sources in his CPI(M) said, as they took place during his rule. As for his take on those historic events, which are believed to have contributed to the downfall of his government, the sources could only guess. Most likely, he will seek to justify his government's economic and political decisions that helped spark the agitations.

This is Bhattacharjee's second such venture. He has already published Phire Dekha, a memoir about the first 10 years of the Left's 34-year rule in Bengal that was ended by Mamata's victory in the 2011 election. The 96-page book details the landmark decisions taken by the Left in its first years in power as well as the controversies which dogged Jyoti Basu's government such as the Marichjhapi eviction and the Bijan Setu killings.

Phire Dekha provides an insight into where the Left went wrong after taking power in 1977. In the section about cultural hegemony, a common bugbear of communist regimes, Bhattacharjee narrates how he was deeply embarrassed when the filmmaker Satyajit Ray gave him a piece of his mind over the Left regime's decision to paint the Ochterlony Monument red after renaming it as Saheed Minar.

Also Read: Bengal: Left's debacle is merely a symptom of the deeper rot

First published: 4 October 2016, 8:21 IST