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Crisis in Left land
Mamata throws spanner in Tata wheel
Subhrangshu Gupta
Tribune News Service

Kolkata, December 3
Trinamool Congress supremo Mamata Banerjee today gave a 24-hour ultimatum to Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee to stop the eviction of poor farmers at Singur by transferring their farmlands to Tata Motors or else she would begin “a fast unto death”.

The SUCI, another Left party, fighting for the protection of rights of the farmers, also gave a call for 24-hour Bengal bandh on Tuesday, which the CPI(M-L) would support.

The Trinamool Congress and other like-minded parties, though supporting the SUCI’s move, would not directly participate in the bandh.

The BJP, which had thus far been silent on the issue, today came out in public, attacking the Chief Minister’s decision to transfer farmland to Tata Motors and Selim Group of Industries.

BJP president Rajnath Singh accompanied by newly-elected state party president Sukumar Banerjee and general secretary Rahul Singh will visit Singur tomorrow.

Prominent Naxalite leader Kanu Sanyal will also visit the town tomorrow to express his solidarity with farmers.

Interestingly, the Congress that initially agreed to support the TMC on the issue suddenly went silent, apprehending Left parties’ withdrawal of support from the UPA, which would mean the downfall of the Manmohan Singh government at the Centre.

INTUC leader Subrata Mukherjee, who is also general secretary of the WBPCC(I), along with a section of workers of the Chhatra Parisad, are also participating in the TMC’s agitation against land transfer to industries.

Social activist and environmentalist Medha Patkar, who was late Saturday removed forcibly by the police from Singur for protesting the acquisition of fertile farmlands, said the Left Front government in the state was acting like US President George W. Bush who attacked Iraq.

“You cannot forcibly take away the land of farmers. This is like George W. Bush’s policy in Iraq,” Medha Patkar said here today after spending the night in a police jeep.

She even went on a brief dharna at Chandernagore demanding the release of women arrested yesterday at Singur.

She is expected to visit Singur tomorrow and take part in the farmers’ agitation.

Like yesterday, workers of the TMC, the CPI(M-L) and the SUCI organised demonstrations and blocked roads at several places in the city and other districts today.

At Kalyani, around 50 km from here, the police lathi-charged a group of SUCI workers, mostly women, as they demonstrated on railway tracks.

The CPI(M-L) also demonstrated in several areas in and around the city.

Meanwhile, Union Minister Priyaranjan Dasmunsi today asked Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee to suspend all activities, including fencing of land for the project and initiate a dialogue with all parties to solve the impasse.

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Bengal CM ready for talks

Trinamul Congress supremo Mamata Banerjee campaigns for her party candidate in Islumpur, Malda, on Saturday night
Trinamul Congress supremo Mamata Banerjee campaigns for her party candidate in Islumpur, Malda, on Saturday night. — PTI photo

Kolkata, December 3
Striking a conciliatory tone in the face of growing protests against handing over of farmland at Singur to industrial units, Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee today said he was willing to discuss the issue with the opposition Trinamool Congress and the Congress “with an open mind”.

“I am willing for talks with the Trinamool Congress and the Congress with an open mind,” he told a CITU rally at the Brigade Parade ground, a day after violent resistance by locals at Singur in Hoogly district.

“The Trinamool Congress were even given a land map. But they did not turn up for the last meeting,” he said.

The Opposition, he said, should understand that Tata Motors’ small project would not only change the economy of Singur but of entire West Bengal.

“This is not a matter of confrontation with the government.”

If the Tata Motors factory did not come up at Singur it would send a wrong message to the country and the world, Mr Bhattacharjee said.

If the factory came up, it would be followed by Ashok Leyland and Mahindra and Mahindra, which had so far been hesitant to come to West Bengal.

It would be a boost for the state, which had no car-manufacturing factory, save Hindusthan Motors that turned out Ambassador cars, he said.

Mr Bhattacharjee said people had given the mandate to the Left Front government for industrialisation of the state and “we cannot turn back”. — PTI

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