The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Mamata Singur drive turns to Tatas

Singur, Sept. 10: Mamata Banerjee’s campaign against land acquisition in Singur changed gear today as she urged Tata Motors to find another place to house its small-car unit.

“I would request the Tatas to look for alternative land for the project,” the Trinamul chief said. “The Tatas should not snatch land from poor farmers.”

Addressing a rally here, 45 km from Calcutta, Mamata had a word of caution for the company. “I shall tell the Tatas that the state government is misleading them about the project site. There are many other areas across Bengal where they can set up a factory.”

Tata Motors will require 997.26 acres spread across five mouzas of Singur in Hooghly district. So far, 1,532 farmers have given their consent on selling their plots and the government has acquired 454 acres.

Mamata reminded the gathering that the Left Front government had acquired 700 acres in Dankuni, about 10 km from Singur, during Jyoti Basu’s regime for a food park. “But it is lying unused. Why is it not being handed over to the Tatas'” she asked.

The Trinamul leader made it clear she was not opposed to industry. “We, too, are in favour of new industries for Bengal’s rejuvenation, but not at the cost of poor farmers. The CPM is not understanding this ground reality,” she said.

Today’s was the third rally Mamata has organised in Singur to motivate people against the land acquisition drive.

On June 18, she addressed a farmers’ convention, and a month later planted saplings of aman paddy.

A large chunk of Congress workers joined Mamata’s demonstration today. Among them were grassroots workers owing allegiance to Somen Mitra. They, however, have decided to stay away from another protest lined up by information and broadcasting minister Priya Ranjan Das Munshi tomorrow.

Local Congress leaders said several party workers at the grassroots have aligned with Mamata after she decided to back the party’s bypoll nominee, A.H. Khan Chowdhury, for the Malda Lok Sabha seat in deference to the late Ghani Khan Chowdhury.

The Singur rally also had representatives from Mulayam Singh Yadav’s Samajwadi Party. State Samajwadi chief Vijay Updadhayay said the party has decided to back Mamata on Singur despite political differences.

However, state BJP leaders were conspicuous by their absence.

Mamata threatened a bigger agitation after Durga Puja. “Normally during Puja, we are opposed to any sort of political movements. But if the government tries to acquire land, taking advantage of the festival season, we shall all come here to launch a demonstration. We are not sleeping.”

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