The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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CM pleads, Mamata holds fast
A CPM worker shows a bottle of kerosene left by miscreants in Singur. Picture by Pradip Sanyal

Calcutta, Dec. 8: Trinamul Congress chief Mamata Banerjee — “standing at the crossroads of life and death” — today turned down chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee’s written appeal to call off her hunger strike, increasing the CPM leadership’s concern about an agitation over which it has no control.

In a letter to Mamata, Bhattacharjee said: “Your hunger strike is a matter of concern for everybody. I request you to end the fast. As for Singur and the state’s industrialisation process, I am prepared to hold discussions with you and your party representatives. I hope you will consider my request.”

Mamata skirted the call to end the fast and requested the chief minister to stop land acquisition in Singur “in the interest of humanity”.

“Then we can respectfully consider your request. Standing at the crossroads of life and death, I appeal to you to suspend land acquisition at Singur and look for an alternative site for the Tata project. I hope that you will respond to my sincere appeal,” she said.

Trinamul MLAs Saugata Roy and Jyotipriya Mallick went to Writers’ Buildings at 3 pm to hand over Mamata’s reply. Around 1 pm, the chief minister’s letter was given to Trinamul MP Mukul Roy by deputy commissioner (central) Ajay Ranade at Esplanade where Mamata is on hunger strike.

Yesterday she had wondered aloud why the chief minister was requesting her to stop the fast through the media instead of directly asking her. “This is why the chief minister wrote to her,” said a CPM leader.

The direct approach seemed to have fallen flat as the fast entered the fifth day.

“We know that her agitation is losing steam. The Naxalites and the SUCI are putting pressure on her to continue. With the fencing of the land for Tata Motors almost over, she also knows that it is a fait accompli,” said a minister.

“But her refusal to end her hunger strike will make the agitation linger. Any deterioration of her health would keep the issue alive in the public mind,” said the minister, who is also a CPM state committee member.

Speaker Somnath Chatterjee also wrote to Mamata requesting her to call off her fast and return to Parliament.

CPM state secretary Biman Bose appealed to Mamata, again, to end her fast.

What is also worrying the government and the party is that the land may have been fenced off, but the Tatas may not want to take possession and start work in the middle of Mamata’s agitation.

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