The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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PM sympathy lies with CM

New Delhi, Dec. 4: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is “deeply concerned” over attempts to blow out of proportion the protests revolving around Singur, according to sources.

The Prime Minister is of the view that the issue was “overly politicised”. “A gathering of a few hundred protesters was made out to be a mega-show, when on any given day, the CPM can easily muster two lakh supporters on the road on any issue,” one of the sources said.

Singh, one of the strongest supporters of chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee in Delhi, does feel that development issues, such as disparities in distribution of economic benefits, need to be addressed on the ground.

But the Prime Minister stressed the importance of evolving “sharply focused” policies that would take people out of agriculture but increase farm production. Bhattacharjee’s policy — with stress on rapid industrialisation — is in line with such a view.

The sources said Singh feels that hit-and-run protests could be “counter-productive” because business groups would think twice before venturing into such states.

The Prime Minister is keenly following the developments in Bengal, particularly because the reform-friendly Bhattacharjee is Singh’s best bet to soften the hardliners in the Left and secure their support for “contentious” policies and legislation.

Singh’s party, the Congress, however, played safe. Spokesperson Satyavrat Chaturvedi advised the Bengal government to “talk to the farmers” and resolve the problem “not by using police force but through discussions”.

But Chaturvedi added that the party had no plans to either send a delegation to Singur or join the Trinamul Congress’s agitation.

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