After removing reference to Bhagwan Ram, TMC leaders find mention in Bengal’s history books

Only some days ago, the West Bengal government had decided to remove reference to Bhagwan Ram from textbooks across the state, a step that raised many eyebrows.

Even before the furore over the West Bengal government’s decision to remove reference to God Ram in textbooks in schools across the state had barely died down, the Mamata Banerjee-led Trinamool Congress government has kicked up a fresh controversy.

This time with its decision to add names of more than a dozen Trinamool Congress leaders in history books in the state.

Beginning with a reference to chief minister Mamata Banerjee herself, the chapter on Singur also talks about Trinamool Congress leaders like Partha Chatterjee, Mukul Roy, Purnendu Basu, Ashima Patra, Dola Sen, Bratya Basu, Arpita Ghosh, Sovan Chatterjee, Firhad Hakim, Sovandeb Chatterjee, Subrata Buxi, Rabindranath Bhattacharjee and Becharam Manna among others.


Terming the Singur agitation “historic”, the chapter describes Mamata Banerjee as the leader who organised the anti-land acquisition movement and gave a direction to the farmers’ struggle. “The movement helped end the evil attempt to establish a factory for the one lakh rupee car project over land fertile for multiple crops, a move aimed at industrialisation for development and job creation”, quotes a line from the chapter.

Justifying the move, Aveek Majumdar, chairman of the expert committee responsible for re-designing the state government syllabus, said, “If they have led the movement, it is only legitimate that they should be included. Why should we exclude someone just because they belong to a political party.”

Majumdar says the syllabus committee took utmost care about striking a balance by keeping references to previous land movements like the Tebhaga agitation intact. “We have included Singur in continuity with other land movements in India. It is a contemporary movement that led to the Supreme Court verdict which changed the centuries-old land acquisition system in India”, he added.

In August last year, the Supreme Court had quashed the land acquisition by the erstwhile Left Front government for the Tata Nano project, terming it “illegal”. The apex court had also ordered the state government to return the land to unwilling farmers who had opposed the project. The verdict was seen as a historic political victory for Mamata Banerjee, who had spearheaded the protest against the CPI-M government’s decision to forcibly acquire the land for Tata Motors Limited. It was after this legal victory last year that the Mamata government began mulling the idea of including it in school curriculum.


“We want to include the Singur movement in school syllabus. We have already discussed the issue at length. A proposal in this regard is being sent to the ‘Syllabus Committee’ for inclusion of Singur movement in the school syllabus”, state education minister Partha Chatterjee had announced in September last year.

After coming to power in 2011, Mamata Banerjee, in her very first cabinet meeting, had announced that the Singur land would be handed back to the farmers who had opposed its acquisition. Subsequently, the government had passed a legislation in the state assembly to facilitate the land transfer. However, the Tatas had challenged the state government’s “Singur Land Rehabilitation and Development Act of 2011” in the Calcutta High Court, which later struck it down as “unconstitutional”. However, Mamata Banerjee won the final battle in the Supreme Court which ruled in her favour stating that the land acquisition by Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee-led Left front government was illegal.

Interestingly, even the BJP government in Rajasthan recently announced that it would include a chapter on demonetisation and cashless economy in Class 12 Economics textbooks from the next academic session in the state.


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