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The politics of land, consent, and negotiation: revisiting the development-displacement narratives from Singur in West Bengal

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India’s rapid economic growth has frequently been marred by struggles over land acquisition and displacement. This paper re-examines one such case. In 2006, protests erupted in Singur (a small cluster of villages in West Bengal) against government initiatives to acquire land for a private industrial project. The protests gathered enough momentum to stall the project, and went on to have a decisive impact on electoral fortunes of the government, thus attaining a cult status in the country’s development-displacement narratives. This paper presents the Singur story in a new light, arguing that there was a political character to the entire episode, largely ignored by mainstream literature. Based on the idea of the ‘shadow-state’ (Harriss-White 2003), the paper examines the role played by the political managers of the ruling Communist Party of India, Marxist (CPIM), and highlights three themes – choice of land, acquiring consent, and negotiation – to build its narrative.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-17
JournalSouth Asia Multidisciplinary Academic Journal
Early online date8 Mar 2016
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2016


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