The firing, which focussed national and international attention on a peasant agitation against forcible land acquisition, had played a vital role in ending 34 years of Left Front rule in West Bengal.

At the other side, the Trinamool Congress is battling allegations of corruption in Nandigram, about 160 km from Kolkata in East Midnapore district - which goes to the hustings on Thursday in the sixth and final phase of the state assembly polls.
The trigger for the graft charges is the Narada News sting operation video that purportedly showed heavyweight Trinamool candidate Suvendu Adhikari taking wads of currency notes in return for doling out favours to a fictitious company.

Ironically, the Communist Party of India, which had established a monopoly over the seat from 1996 to 2009, lost its grip after its then legislator, Md. Iliyas, was caught taking a bribe in another sting operation.
But it is the infamous police firing that has brought about a complete shift in Nandigram's political centre of gravity.Such is Trinamol's stranglehold over the area that the CPI candidate, Abdul Kabir Sekh, backed by the Left Front and the Congress, complains he is unable to campaign in most parts of the constituency.

"Trinamool workers are tearing-off our flags, festoons and placards. I don't know how many votes they can increase by terrorising voters," Kabir told IANS.Almost in all panchayats on the bank of the Haldi river, Trinamool flags are seen fluttering everywhere. Red flags are hardly visible.

"Out of 17 gram panchayats where Trinamool is in power, we are not being allowed to campaign in 10-11," Kabir said.But Adhikari, also the sitting Lok Sabha member from Tamluk - of which Nandigram is a part - pooh poohed the allegations.
"They (the Left) are unable to campaign as they have no organisation here. Since the time they killed farmers of Nandigram in the name of land acquisition, people have started hating them," Adhikari said.

Violence erupted in Nandigram in 2007 after the villagers started protesting against the then Left Front government's bid to acquire 10,000 acres of land for a chemical hub and a special economic zone to be developed by the Indonesia-based Salim group.After the government notified the land acquisition, the farmers, backed by the Trinamool, Maoists and the Congress, dug up all the approach roads and virtually created a free zone.As the administration tried to regain control of the area, 14 farmers died in police firing on March 14, 2007, and over 100 were declared "missing".

The government withdrew the land acquisition notification, but violence continued for over a year. "The way we handled the land acquisition issue was wrong. The way our government tried to acquire land was a blunder," Kabir said. "We failed to convince farmers about the positive effects of industrialisation after we had given them land during our rule," he added.

The Trinamool, cashing in on the anti-land acquisition stir, nominated Firoza Bibi, the mother of a youth who was said to be among the 14 who died in the police firing, in a by-poll for the assembly seat in January 2009.

Latest News from West Bengal News Desk