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Mamata asks for 400 acres

Kamarkundu, May 25: A day after flexing muscles over the government’s acquisition of farmland for industry, an unusually soft Mamata Banerjee appealed to the Tatas with “folded hands” to return 400 acres taken over from “unwilling landowners” for the car plant in Singur.

“I am appealing to the Tatas with folded hands to set up their car plant on 600 acres and return another 400 acres to the unwilling farmers. I hope good sense prevails,” Mamata told a rally outside Kamarkundu station, about 55km from Calcutta, this afternoon.

Truckloads of people, including many housewives, had been brought over from neighbouring Howrah and Nadia for Mamata’s first public meeting after her party’s rural poll success in parts of south Bengal.

“We will have to be more restrained and patient. A sustained movement will help us reach our goal,” the Trinamul Congress chief told the rally to mark the second anniversary of the protest against the Tata Motors project in Singur.

She told the gathering to “silently” carry on the movement against “forcible” land acquisition.

Trinamul sources said Mamata’s change of mind was prompted by the realisation that the rollout of the Nano from Singur in a few months had become inevitable.

“As a face-saving device, Didi will keep harping on the return of 400 acres. This is her political compulsion,” said a Singur Trinamul leader.

Mamata today almost disowned those who marched to the Tata project site in the afternoon and tried to torch two watchtowers. “This was a stray incident and our supporters had nothing to do with it,” she said.

Becharam Manna, a con-vener of the Trinamul-led Sa- ve Farmland Committee, said: “Instead of pulling down the Tata Motors wall, we will have to build a sustained movement to get back the 400 acres from the Tatas.”

Manna has been elected to the Singur panchayat samiti, which Trinamul wrested from the CPM in the rural polls.

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