A politician in rural India has risen from the violent Nandigram land clash in 2007. She wants to help fellow resisters, particularly female survivors of rape and sexual assault, who have not received financial awards recommended by the High Court.
NANDIGRAM, India (WOMENSENEWS)–In this fertile area of rural villages in the corner of West Bengal, in the eastern part of India, history was made in 2007 when the local people staged a bloody resistance to a corporate land acquisition and won.
Earlier this year, the area made history again when Firoza Bibi, a semi-literate village woman in her late fifties, ran for her region’s seat in the West Bengal Legislative Assembly. She scored a notable victory for the Trinamool, or “Grassroots” Congress, the state’s main opposition party. As the mother of a “martyr” of the violence, she campaigned door-to-door and in January easily outpolled her nearest rival–93,022 votes to 53,473–and broke the longstanding political control of the ruling Left Front.
With the exception of a five-year period, from 1992 to 1997, West Bengal for three decades had been controlled by the Left Front, a coalition group that in this region has been backing a policy of industrial development that sometimes involves acquiring agricultural land for industry.
But the party’s participation in the 2007 violent crackdown on resisting villagers cost it vital support. When the area’s seat in the state legislature became vacant following the resignation of a ruling-party politician facing corruption charges, Firoza Bibi wrested party control.
But now the difficult part of making a dent on policy in Kolkata has begun.