The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Run-up to Singur meet

Calcutta, Sept. 3: Bengal governor Gopalkrishna Gandhi will tomorrow meet members of the two panels representing the state government and the Trinamul Congress for preliminary discussions on Singur.

The governor will receive documents from the two sides as part of the introductory interface tomorrow and shepherd the formal talks at 10am at the council chamber of Raj Bhavan on Friday.

The governor will be helped by the former chief justice and former acting governor of Maharashtra, Chittatosh Mookerjee, on legal aspects. “All of us, if well-meaning and determined to work for the benefit of our people, should not find it difficult to work out a solution,” Mookerjee said.

At the warm-up round, the government side led by industries minister Nirupam Sen is scheduled to call on Gandhi around 10.30am and brief him on land acquisition, compensation and rehabilitation of landlosers. The strength of the government panel, now fixed at four, may go up if the situation warrants.

The Trinamul delegation, led by Partha Chatterjee, will meet the governor around noon. In between, the governor will have a session with Sudip Bandopadhyay, a Congress leader and the chairman of the Assembly standing committee on industries, who is known for his favourable position on the Tata project.

The documents will be examined by Justice Mookerjee before being tabled the next day.

A statement from Raj Bhavan had stressed the need to “maintain calm” in Singur and “build mutual confidence”. “He (the governor) envisages this exercise as one that will result in a sense of shared, not one-sided, achievement,” the statement added.

During the day, both sides tried to live up to the appeal. “I hope the outcome of Friday’s discussions will enlighten us on how to acquire land in Bengal for industrialisation,” said Mamata Banerjee, displaying a sense of accommodation. “There must not be any forcible land acquisition. Let industry and agriculture co-exist.”

Her utterances were devoid of strident insistence on the return of the 400 acres. Sources said the demand could be scaled down.

In quick reciprocation, the government said it was happy at the way Trinamul was responding to the situation. “There are reasons to be hopeful, (because) the governor has taken the initiative,” chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee said.

More fulsome praise came from Sen. “If she (Mamata) is positive enough, there is no reason why the Singur crisis cannot be resolved,” he said.

“For the first time, she is saying something very positive and we welcome it,” Sen added, referring to Mamata’s comment that she was “hopeful” of finding a solution.

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