The Supreme Court verdict on Wednesday ordering the return of Singur land to farmers came as both political victory and moral vindication for Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee. But it was the immense sense of relief that she seemed to feel that was most visible at the press conference she held just after the court verdict.
"Ektu Cha pawa jabe?" (Can I have some tea?) was her first reaction. When the journalists gathered around her noted the mood and demanded a treat, Didi's reaction was: "You should give me a treat, not the other way around.
On a serious note, though, Mamata recalled the sacrifices of the farmers and their families, she recalled Tapasi Manik, the 16-year-old who was brutally raped and murdered, and 14 others who died during the Singur protests. She also recalled the late writer and activist Mahasweta Devi, who visited Singur during the protest and encouraged the farmers to protect their only means of livelihood.
"I am remembering the people who sacrificed for this. I expect everyone to celebrate this Singur victory, it's like an invocation for Durga Puja," Mamata said as she grew increasingly emotional.
"This is a landmark victory for the state, coming close on the heels of the change of its name. I'm very happy with the SC decision. I have dreamt of this verdict for so long, for the people of Singur. Now, I can die in peace."
However, Didi's parting shot caught everyone by surprise. "Bengal is the final industrial destination. Keep that in mind!" she said, even as she announced a meeting on Thursday to discuss how to implement the SC order to return the lands to the farmers.
Timeline: As the Singur story unfolded...
May 18, 2006: The Buddhadeb Bhattacharya-led CPM government announced that Tata Motors would locate its Nano car project in Singur, for which 997 acres of land was to be acquired by a state industry promotion agency.
July 18, 2006: Mamata sows paddy near Singur as a mark of protest against the "land grab".
January 21, 2007: Tata Motors starts
construction of the plant.
December 3, 2007: Mamata starts indefinite hunger strike on Singur issue
January 10, 2008: Amid protests led by Mamata Bannerjee and her party cadre, Tata Motors unveils the Nano car at the Delhi auto show.
December 28, 2007: Mamata ends fast
January 18, 2008: Calcutta High Court declares the land acquisition "legal", allowing project to proceed.
February 15, 2008: Tata Motors announces that the first Nano will roll out of Singur plant by October.
May 21, 2008: TMC wins panchayat elections.
August 24, 2008: Mamata begins iIndefinite dharna at Singur
September 2, 2008: Tata Motors forced to stop work on Nano plant
September 5, 2008: Negotiations start between
Bengal government and Trinamool Congress to resolve the
October 3, 2008: Tata Motors moves out of Singur
October 7, 2008: Tata Motors announces new Nano Plant in Sanand, Gujarat
September 1, 2009: Compensation issue raised by Ratan Tata with the Bengal government
May 20, 2011: Mamata, sworn in as the new CM of West Bengal, promises to return 400 acres of Singur land to farmers
June 9, 2011: An ordinance is passed, taking
over 997 acres of land, citing non-performance by Tata
June 14, 2011: Bengal Assembly passes the Singur Land Rehabilitation and Development Bill, 2011.
June 22, 2011: Tata Motors challenges the Bill
in Calcutta High Court
June 29, 2011: SC directs WB government not to distribute lands at Singur till further orders from Calcutta High Court.
September 28, 2011: Justice I.P. Mukerji of Calcutta High Court upholds the Singur law.
October 29, 2011: Tata Motors challenges the order of the Calcutta High Court
June 22, 2012: The Divison Bench of the Calcutta High Court strikes down the Bill
August 6, 2012: The West Bengal government
moves the Supreme Court against the striking down of the Bill.
August 24, 2012: Supreme Court seeks response of Tata Motors on the WB government's petition.
July 10, 2013: SC asks Tata Motors to consider returning the land as the company had already moved its car plant out of Singur
Nov 12, 2013: Tata Motors tells SC, it wants to retain land in Singur for the Nano project
May 5, 2016: SC observes that the previous Left Front-led Bengal govt had rushed through the land acquisition process
Aug 31, 2016: SC terms the Singur land deal with Tata Motors illegal, directs government to return the land to the farmers within 12 weeks.