The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Mamata & protest in sick bed

Calcutta, Sept. 28: As Mamata Banerjee — hospitalised late last night following pain in the chest — underwent a battery of tests today, her party leaders grappled with a headache.

First, the “police brutalities” on Mamata and now her health have cast a cloud on the Trinamul Congress’s agitation against the government’s land acquisition for the Tatas’ small car factory in Singur.

“After launching a substantial campaign against the Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee government’s grabbing of fertile land for the Tata project, we find ourselves in a bind because Mamata, our driving force, is out of commission,” said Sadhan Pande, a senior Trinamul leader.

He was, however, quick to add: “Her health is now our main concern.”

As long as Mamata is confined to her bed in suite A on the sixth floor of Belle Vue Clinic, Trinamul would not be able to decide how to take the protests forward, said Pande.

Which way the Congress, Trinamul’s rediscovered friend, goes is another cause for concern. “Truth be told, the agitation has gone into an untimely pause, offering a breather to the Congress, which, mark my words, will never seriously oppose Ratan Tata’s dream nor the Bhattacharjee government,” Pande said.

Mamata began her campaign about two months ago. With protests against land acquisition for industry breaking out across the country, she held attention for a while.

But since the middle of this month, there has been a progressive scaling down of the agitation. Mamata realised that Bhattacharjee was determined to make the Tata project a reality and that a large section of farmers in Singur was responding to the government’s offer for compensation.

“You can’t say we have put the Singur movement on the back burner,” Trinamul MP Mukul Roy said, “though it is true that our focus has got considerably diluted thanks to our concentration on police brutalities on Mamata and her health. We have to try and bring back the momentum.”

Congress leader Subrata Mukherjee, who visited Mamata in Belle Vue today, said the Trinamul chief had erred in shifting her movement to Calcutta, where she protested against the police assault.

“There is no denying that she has downsized her campaign in sequences. After successfully placing it in an all-India context, she had the Singur agitation turned into a protest against the police attack on her…. Now it has further been downgraded to concerns over her health.”

The CPM rubbished Mamata’s hospitalisation as “dramabazi”. “From Gandhi statue to a posh suite in Belle Vue, it’s pure drama,” scoffed CPM state secretary Biman Bose.

The Left Front has called a meeting on October 3 to counter the bandh called by Mamata on that day.

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