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Roller-coaster to truce
- Break after ‘high drama’

Calcutta, Sept. 7: The truce came today after roller-coaster rounds of bargaining between the government and the Opposition.

The talks gained momentum mid-day, expectations soared in the early evening, only to nosedive in the late hours. Then, almost miraculously, came the resolution.

Chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee shuttled between his party office and Raj Bhavan thrice to talk to Mamata Banerjee.

The two were meeting for the first time.

The chief minister reached Raj Bhavan at 11am. After he left,entered leader of Opposition Partha Chatterjee.

When Mamata arrived at 3pm, governor Gopalkrishna Gandhi asked Bhattacharjee to come back.

He reached at 4.45pm for a “face-to-face” meeting with the Trinamul Congress chief. It lasted almost two hours.

Through the day, both the government and the Opposition had been giving feel-good sound bites.

The chief minister met the Left Front partners and his colleagues in the CPM state secretariat before leaving for the talks.

 

PWD minister Kshiti Goswami and CPI state secretary Manju Mazumder said they were told the government had agreed to offer 80 acres — 30 acres inside the project area and 50 outside.

At Raj Bhavan, Mamata asked for more land from the vendor park. Bhattacharjee replied it would be difficult to convince the Tatas.

When the chief minister returned to Alimuddin Street after his second visit to Raj Bhavan, he was beaming but silent.

CPM leaders Mohammad Salim and Goutam Deb declared “all’s well that ends well” as Mamata had decided to suspend her dharna. A formal announcement, they said, was a matter of time.

 

The merry mood turned morose in minutes when Bhattacharjee received a call from the governor.

According to Goswami, Mamata had agreed to the government’s offer to maintain “status quo”, or suspension of work, in that part of the vendor park where ancillary units had been given permission for construction. But she changed her mind after the chief minister left Raj Bhavan and demanded suspension of work in the entire park.

Neither the governor nor his legal adviser, Justice Chittatosh Mookerjee, could convince her.

The chief minister first spoke to Mamata over the phone. When she refused to budge, Bhattacharjee went back to the talks table, accompanied by industries minister Nirupam Sen and panchayat minister Surjya Kanta Mishra.

After the resolution, the mood at Alimuddin Street lifted again.

“We don’t know how long the truce will sustain. But it is worth celebrating as both sides seem to have got a much-needed respite after 15 days of high drama,” a front leader said.

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