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Just in time for Mamata

Calcutta, Sept. 7: Trinamul leaders said tonight’s deal couldn’t have been timed better.

The strain of the 15-day siege was showing, the backlash against the work suspension at the Nano plant had begun to burst through and the out-of-work villagers were turning restive.

Trinamul leaders heaved a sigh of relief that an agreement had finally been reached, saying it would give Mamata Banerjee substantial political mileage ahead of the Lok Sabha polls.

“This is perhaps the first time the government has taken Mamata seriously. Mind you, the government didn’t have a choice. If they had let Mamata continue her dharna, the Tatas would have shifted the Nano plant,” said party general secretary and Rajya Sabha MP Mukul Roy.

Another section of Trinamul presented the other side of the picture, saying Mamata, too, needed an escape route from an agitation she couldn’t have possibly continued indefinitely.

“Of the 13,000 landlosers, only about 2,000 hadn’t taken compensation cheques. Among those who took the money, many have family members who work at the plant or are contractors. They were affected by the dharna and had been taking out processions. So, there was pressure from this quarter also,” a Trinamul leader said.

Public opinion in favour of the plant had piled pressure on Mamata since Ratan Tata said Tata Motors would not hesitate to shift the project if it felt “unwanted”.

 

“Mamata has always said she is in favour of industry and had designed a Bengal package (road map) during the 2006 Assembly poll campaign. She realised it would be extremely injurious to her image if she was blamed for the exit of the Tatas. So she was badly looking for an escape route,” said the leader.

Many in Trinamul said her desperation to reach a deal was apparent when she agreed to meet chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee.

“We were surprised when we heard Mamata had finally set aside her mental block about Buddhababu and agreed to a meeting with him. Then we realised how desperate she is for a solution,” the leader said.

Leader of Opposition Partha Chatterjee, who led the Trinamul delegation at the talks before Mamata stepped in, said: “She (Mamata) was successful in bringing the government virtually to its knees and forcing them to swallow the land-for-land formula. This is where her victory lies, parti- cularly with the rural voters.”

Others pointed to a possible Puja damper. “It is against Mamata’s tradition to carry on with political activities after Mahalaya, at the end of this month. Many leaders are involved with their local Puja committees. The crowd (at the siege) would also have thinned gradually. It would have been difficult to keep up the dharna tempo,” the leader said.

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