The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Mamata cold to request

Calcutta, Dec. 24: The Prime Minister made the expected attempt to break the Singur deadlock on his visit to Bengal today, but without success.

Manmohan Singh sent information and broadcasting minister Priya Ranjan Das Munshi as his emissary to Mamata Banerjee in the evening with the request to end the fast and convey his concerns about her health.

Before despatching Das Munshi, there was some drama on the sidelines of the ceremony at the Indian Statistical Institute where there was handholding and discussion between the Prime Minister and the chief minister.

Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee was explaining the situation to Singh and foreign minister Pranab Mukherjee when the Prime Minister called for Das Munshi who had already got into the car to leave and had to come running.

When Das Munshi met Mamata, he told her the chief minister had conveyed to Singh that he was prepared to discuss with her complaints of forcible acquisition.

“The chief minister said that he was open to dialogue on the issue of farmers who are still unwilling to sell their land. He is already prepared to consider withdrawing the police cases related to Singur,” Das Munshi later said.

Mamata, however, said she would end her fast, on its 21st day, only if the chief minister “agreed in principle” to return the land of farmers who were unwilling to give it and did not accept the compensation cheque.

She was angry that neither Singh nor Mukherjee visited her. “They were so busy the whole day they couldn’t come here,” she sneered.

Singh did not even write her a letter.

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