Birulia Bazar is like any small market in a village. Narrow lanes lined with shops, bustling with shoppers and traders. But it’s now become a hotspot with Mamata Bannerjee’s alleged attack being associated with it. People here discuss the night of the incident and also keep tabs of news channels to find out how the chief minister is doing.
Ritwik Malik and Polai Basak are competitors. Both sell clothes in a highly competitive market, yet are best friends. But that one incident seems to have created a divide in their point of view. Both were at the bazaar when the incident took place. Ritwik is convinced that it was staged and “it’s unfair to even suggest that some of the people of Nandigram could have done this. We are not like this.” Mamata Bannerjee and her team perhaps realised the import of blaming locals for allegedly attacking her. Which is why many in TMC started speaking of outsiders being brought in to target her.
Poloi disagrees. He said,”I saw how she had no security and she was crushed. She loves to meet people and that’s what she was trying to do. Why would she fake it ? She has always got hurt and come back.”
As TMC and BJP fight the battle over an injured Mamata in Delhi and Kolkata, Nandigram, where the incident happened is more reticent to talk about it. There is an investigation and the narrative is deeply divided. No one wants to speak much as they don’t want to be seen as picking sides. But it’s this confusion and silence which both parties want to use to their advantage .
The TMC is getting ready for a bounce back and has plans for Mamata’s first appearance. It is treading cautiously because it knows to allege Nandigram people could have been behind her injury will be used by the BJP to make their point that she considers the people of Nandigram to be outsiders and goons because she is not from Nandigram. Whereas with a voter card from the constituency Suvendu Adhikari is pitching himself as the ‘bhoomiputra’.
Back in Nandigram the debate continues. One address which has become famous is the small mishti’r dokan (sweet shop) run by Nitai Maity. He was the one who was closest to Mamata when she was hurt. He ran out of his shop and gave her the initial basic first aid. He doesn’t want to be dragged into the details of whether it was an accident or attack. “She is our chief minister and I wanted to help her which is basic humanity,” he said. Interestingly he also won a lottery the day after, and thinks this was god’s reward to him for doing a good deed.
Suvendu was careful not to mention Mamata Banenrjee’s injury saying, “I don’t want to comment on a non political matter.” No doubt it’s become a political issue, but no one wants to take a chance. Not even the people of Nandigram.