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Mamata returns to Singur allies

Calcutta, June 23: The setback in the Singur case prompted Mamata Banerjee to launch a damage-control exercise this evening by calling a meeting of her comrades from the days of the anti-land acquisition movement, the first such session after the new government came to power.

For more than two hours, the chief minister discussed strategies with SUCI, PDS and PDCI leaders and culture clan members who had once shared the dais with her in Singur and Metro Channel.

Members of the Krishi Jami Raksha Committee, which had spearheaded the movement against land acquisition, were also present at the Town Hall meeting hurriedly called by Mamata, a day after Calcutta High Court struck down the Singur act.

The committee adopted a resolution that said it was “determined to return land to unwilling farmers and take all steps to ensure that legal rights are established”.

Trinamul sources said the chief minister listened to the suggestions of the people involved in the Singur movement and explained her position to them. “She said our government was with the people of Singur and the administration had tried to help them,” a Trinamul leader said.

Railway minister Mukul Roy, state Trinamul president Subrata Bakshi, Bengal ministers Partha Chatterjee, Purnendu Bose and Bratya Basu, and Rajya Sabha MPs Debabrata Bandyopadhyay and Derek O’Brien were among those present.

PDCI leader Siddiqullah Chowdhury said: “This was the first time the parties and organisations that had participated in the movement met since the new government was formed. We were not part of the Krishi Jami committee but had participated in the movement. We are with the government for the sake of farmers.”

Some committee members suggested the government hike the monthly allowance of Rs 1,000 that had been announced for each “unwilling” farmer. The members will visit Singur regularly and meet once a month, the sources said.

Singur MLA and agriculture minister Rabindranath Bhattacharya and Trinamul legislator Becharam Manna will keep in touch with the farmers and the other members, the sources added. “A section was of the view that the farmers should forcibly occupy the land, but that was overruled. It has been decided that no legal stone will be left unturned,” a Trinamul leader said.

The sources said some members suggested that the government go for an out-of-court settlement but Mamata overruled it.

In a Facebook message posted on her official page at 7.32pm, Mamata thanked the people “for your overwhelming response to my post on Singur yesterday”. “Your moral support at this juncture is a great source of inspiration to continue our struggle for the cause of farmers.”