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Since 1st March, 1999
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CPM humours Mamata

Aug. 12: Mamata Banerjee is pro-industrialisation, the CPM has grudgingly accepted in an apparent bid to nudge her to the negotiating table.

“We think the Trinamul leader, too, wants industrialisation and development. We hope she will realise that industrialisation will not be possible by stopping the construction of the Tata Motors (small-car) unit,’’ said Anil Basu, CPM MP from Arambagh, at a congregation of Hooghly district Left leaders outside the Singur car plant.

“We appeal to her to shun the path of confrontation and make alternative proposals to the government and the Tatas to find a solution peacefully,” Anil Basu said in the CPM’s most conciliatory statement yet to Mamata.

The CPM has so far been terming Mamata anti-industrialisation — a description the Trinamul leader has been trying to shake off. The CPM’s change of tone today is being seen as an attempt to smooth ruffled feathers and lay the ground for possible talks between Mamata and representatives of Tata Motors.

The CPM, however, ruled out returning 400 acres to the farmers who had been “unwilling” to part with their land — the main demand of the Trinamul Congress-backed Save Farmland Committee.

“She (Mamata) must realise that 90 per cent of construction is done. It’s now absurd to demand the return of land. We appeal to her to co-operate so that production in the factory can begin,” said Rupchand Pal, the Hooghly MP.

The CPM turned down the demand for returning the land allotted for ancillary units, too. “This cannot be accepted. It’s integral to the production process. We hope she comes out with more realistic proposals,” said higher education minister Sudarshan Roy Choudhury.

Mamata, however, has not budged from her key demand and her call for an indefinite dharna outside the plant from August 24. Asked about Anil Basu’s appeal, she bristled: “I shall not answer queries from unimportant CPM leaders. You ask Becha (Becharam Manna, the convener of the Save Farmland Committee in Singur) for a reply.”

Manna said the farmland committee was not opposed to talks. “But I must repeat what didi has already said — that no discussion is possible until the 400 acres forcibly acquired from the unwilling farmers are returned,” he said.

The congregation outside the Tata plant main gate mostly comprised CPM leaders. Senior Forward Bloc leader Naren De was absent. Some RSP, CPI and Bloc leaders who were present kept mum.

Later, when industries minister Sen was asked if the government would write to Mamata, he said: “The chief minister had requested the Trinamul chief in writing several times to join a discussion on the Singur issue.”

He added: “At a personal level, I had appealed to the leader of the Opposition to initiate a dialogue with the government.

“After all this, if you ask me whether we are going to officially request her to hold discussions, I have little to say. If somebody does not respond to repeated appeals for discussion, what can be the way out?”

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