The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Urge for ‘good news’

Singur, Sept. 7: Harideb Pal of Jalghata village in Singur was screaming at the top of his voice when Mamata Banerjee set out for Calcutta on Sunday afternoon.

“Didi, bhalo khobor ante hobe, (Didi, you have to get us some good news),” cried the 55-year-old farmer as the Trinamul Congress leader left in a silver Chevrolet Tavera.

Nine-and-a-half hours later, Pal, whose land was saved from acquisition by a whisker, was beaming as Mamata announced the victory of her 15-day siege and her party colleagues flashed victory signs.

It took the Trinamul leader 10 minutes to cover the 15 metres from her car to the dais as every Trinamul supporter wanted to congratulate her. As she moved, the air filled with her favourite song — hum honge kaamyab…

“The talks have yielded a solution,” Mamata said amid cheers from over 5,000 people.

“Unwilling farmers will get their land back…. The majority of land to be returned would be from the project area,” she said.

She added that local MLA Rabindranath Bhattacharya would steer a committee formed to oversee the process of returning land to farmers.

Harideb admitted that he did not understand all the nuances of what was announced, but he was happy as his leader had announced her victory.

“This is a landmark achievement,” Mamata said, offering her thanks to the people — from decorators and electricians to cooks and cleaning staff — involved with the Singur movement.

Tapas Majhi of Panagarh, Burdwan, was embracing fellow party men when Mamata was handing over the microphone to Kalyan Banerjee to explain the deal that she had inked with the government.

“Didi knows how to win,” chorused the group.

As Mamata disappeared into the ante-room for a meeting, Majhi and his friends moved towards the Tata Sumo they had hired to come to Singur.

“We were waiting for this announcement for so long.… Finally, we can go back home,” said Subhash Naskar who, along with 25 others, had hired a bus to come to Singur from Canning in South 24-Parganas.

For many like Subhash, the wait began when Mamata left for Raj Bhavan at 2pm. The songs continued on the stage, but everyone had their ears cocked to news from Calcutta.

The crowd sprang to life at 7.10pm when Purnendu Bose announced that Mamata had was on her way to Singur with some good news.

Within 15 minutes, the crowd swelled to 10,000. When Madan Mitra announced around 8 that their leader was still in Raj Bhavan, the crowd started thinning.

Those who stayed back went home with a smile around midnight as Mamata suspended her siege for seven days.

“I was supposed to go for Puja shopping with my family today. But I changed my plan and came here. I’m lucky to have seen the movement end,” said Majhi, an electrician.

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