Kolkata, Sep 26 (IANS) The fertile farmlands of Singur, the site of Tata Motors' proposed small car unit, became the launching pad for a new political alignment in West Bengal bringing the hitherto sparring Congress and Trinamool Congress under one umbrella to fight the communists over land rights of farmers.
A late Monday night police baton charge on farmers, women and Trinamool Congress leaders at Singur, about 45 km from here, and the forcible removal of and assault on party chief Mamata Banerjee and her companions, saw the party leaders converging in Kolkata Tuesday morning at the foot of the statue of Mahatma Gandhi.
Mamata Banerjee was allegedly abused, physically assaulted and her clothes were torn at Singur, in Hooghly district, at around 2 a.m. Tuesday.
At their protest Tuesday, Banerjee and her party leaders were joined by senior Congress leader and Information and Broadcasting Minister Priya Ranjan Dasmunsi at the venue on Mayo Road in Kolkata, in a show of opposition unity not seen for nearly a decade.
Even sex workers in the Kalighat area came out on to the road with party activists to protest the attack on Banerjee and the women in Singur.
'I strongly condemn the attack on women at Singur. It is barbaric, and not about Mamata only. I would ask even Communist Party of India-Marxist leader Brinda Karat to condemn the attack on women, including Mamata,' said Dasmunsi, signalling the whole-hearted involvement of the Congress in the movement.
Banerjee has alleged that she was also baton charged, while some Congress leaders claimed she was threatened with a revolver on her chest and her clothes were torn.
The Trinamool has called a road and rail blockade between 11 a.m. and 12 p.m. Tuesday bringing Kolkata to a standstill. It has also called a 24-hour Bengal bandh (shutdown) on Oct 9, which has now been backed by the Congress.
'We support the bandh. Not only on moral grounds - and we will observe it simultaneously. Will our women be subjected to torture by police and our farmers cheated - and I keep silent? Never,' Dasmunsi said.
'We hear that the injured in Singur are in hospital but in hand cuffs. So we are holding a symbolic road blockade. The way the police abused Mamata, the way her clothes were torn and (she was) manhandled, it is unprecedented. It cannot be without (Chief Minister) Buddhadeb Bhattacharya's support,' said Trinamool legislator and senior leader Sougato Roy.
The Congress and the Trinamool Congress will call on President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam to discuss the issue of fertile farmlands being acquired for industrial projects. They have planned a protest rally Wednesday in Kolkata.
'We had asked the chief minister to sit on the table and discuss the issue. But he was adamant and went ahead with grabbing fertile multi-cropping farmlands from the peasants,' said Congress leader Manas Bhuyian.
On Sunday, the state government had declared the 1,000 acres of land at Singur as vested and started acquiring the farmlands and distributing cheques - a move stalled by Mamata Banerjee as she joined the movement with a hunger strike.
The land has been acquired for Tata Motors' small car project.
Late Monday night, Banerjee and Trinamool militant leaders like Sonali Guha were assaulted and physically removed from the site by police, who also reportedly resorted to a merciless