Calcutta, Oct. 3: Bengals symbol of industrial resurgence, the Nano, died a violent death today, the trigger pulled by Mamata Banerjee, Ratan Tata said.
After a meeting with chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee, Tata said: Two years ago, I said if somebody puts a gun to my head, you would either have to remove the gun or pull the trigger. I would not move my head. I think Ms Banerjee pulled the trigger.
It was not as if Bhattacharjee, industries minister Nirupam Sen and chief secretary Amit Kiran Deb had not expected such an outcome when they walked into the meeting with Tata and two of his aides. But the chief minister, especially, and Sen tried their best and failed to persuade Tata to give Singur one more chance.
Tata, who said later he had landed in Delhi in the morning from a trip to Germany, had a shower and flown to Calcutta, would not be shaken from a decision he had already made.
For the well-being of our employees, the safety of our contractors and vendors also, we have taken the very regretful decision, he told a news conference.
We have taken this decision today, perhaps not the best day to make such an announcement on the eve of your Puja.
A few days before Puja might show particularly sad timing, but any time would have been equally tragic. Sen, who had worked for the project to succeed tirelessly for two years, expressed the sentiment perhaps of almost all of the state when he said: I dont want to live in Bengal any more.
While the Tata pullout may or may not have disastrous consequences for future investments, Singur could have a crippling impact on Bengals collective consciousness. For this development-starved state, too much was riding on the worlds cheapest car. Past baggage and a glimmer of hope for the future.
It was again Sen who gave voice to the disappointment of a people. Ratan Tatas decision to shift the Nano factory from Singur would definitely cast its shadow on the people of Bengal, particularly of the younger generation.
Tata might not be entirely unaware of the damage. It shatters many dreams many of us have had. There is great pain, but there is also the feeling that this is the right thing.
The reason we are leaving is the agitation by Mamata Banerjee, he said.
And what does Mamata Banerjee think of the pullout? A joint game plan of the Tatas and CPM
a political joint venture.
Although Tata was unmoved by Bhattacharjees persuasion, he generously praised the role of the chief minister. We still have a great deal of respect for the leadership of Mr Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee.
When the meeting began, for the six men seated around the rectangular glass-top table in the chief ministers office on the first floor of Writers, the next one-and-a-half hours were more a ritual of taking leave with a nod, smile and a handshake.
Bhattacharjee and his team retained their poise when Tata, at one point, leant forward and delivered the dreaded line.
The government did not exactly flinch, a source in Writers said. It had conditioned itself. The content of scores of calls and letters exchanged between the two sides over the past few weeks sort of presaged the dreadful end.
Still, Bhattacharjee and Sen cited statistics, opinion surveys, the overwhelming support from the Left, rising aspirations of the youth on account of the project, guarantee of security for factory personnel and, above all, their own passion, to get Tata to reconsider.
Bhattacharjee asked Tata to send a small team of engineers and workers to restart work. You can always find out the ground situation by sending over a small team, cant you? the government side said. If nothing untoward happens, you can expand your operations.
The chief minister repeatedly asked Tata to wait for some more time. Tata replied that his decision had been prompted by the deadline to bring out the Nano and his stand of not working under police protection.
The Tata group always considers its employees and workers are its own responsibility, a Writers source quoted him as saying.
Confronted with persistent pleas from the government, Tata said he had made up his mind, though the process of making the decision left him sad and pained.
The pain will be immeasurably greater on this side.