The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Gandhi at Mamata fast

Calcutta, Dec. 6: Governor Gopal Krishna Gandhi made a surprise visit tonight to a fasting Mamata Banerjee who is demanding suspension of land acquisition at Singur for the Tata Motors project.

Mamata has been on a hunger strike since Monday opposite Metro cinema.

Raj Bhavan sources said President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, who was in the city today, had requested the governor to meet Mamata.

The visit came on the eve of another Trinamul Congress attempt to enter Singur after Mamata and her supporters were turned away last week. Weak from fasting, Mamata will not take part in tomorrow’s campaign, but she warned the administration of a law and order problem if it tried to stop the marchers.

Even chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee expressed concern for Mamata’s health, appealing to her to call off the fast.

Jini hunger strike korchhen, takeo bolchhi hunger strike tule neen (I’m asking the person on hunger strike to call off the fast. Either she or her party should talk with us. The hunger strike is taking a toll on her health,” he said.

A five-member Trinamul delegation, led by the leader of the Opposition, Partha Chatterjee, had called on Kalam at Raj Bhavan to apprise him of the situation at Singur.

Environment activist Medha Patkar, who has been prevented from visiting Singur over the past two days, also met the President.

In deference to the President’s wishes, on the way back to Raj Bhavan from the airport after seeing off Kalam, the governor spent about 15 minutes with Mamata.

The visit caught the Trinamul leader by surprise.

“Around 8 pm, I suddenly received a call from an aide of the governor informing me that he would be visiting Mamata,” said Trinamul legislator Saugata Roy.

Minutes later, Gopal Gandhi was sitting on the dais with Mamata, clasping her hand and enquiring about her health. “This was a courtesy visit… the governor was concerned about her health,” a Trinamul spokesman said.

Mamata requested the governor to see that farmers whose land had been “forcibly acquired” by the government for the Tata project get their plots back. The governor side-stepped the issue.

Benoy Konar, CPM state secretariat member, said the governor had acted “judiciously” by paying a visit to Mamata.

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