Basu 'compromise' plea to Mamata - Give up land demand, says CPM senior

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By OUR SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT in Calcutta
  • Published 17.08.08
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Calcutta, Aug. 17: Jyoti Basu today spoke out on Singur, urging Mamata Banerjee to strike a “compromise” with the government and abandon her demand for the return of 400 acres to farmers.

“I want Mamata to come to a compromise by giving up her demand for the return of 400 acres of land from the small-car plant in Singur. Those 400 acres cannot be returned,” the CPM veteran said during an unscheduled visit to the party’s Alimuddin Street office this afternoon.

Hours earlier, chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee had said in Siliguri that his government would not acquire land for new industries without the consent of local people.

Basu suggested that Mamata, who has called an indefinite dharna outside the Singur plant from August 24, should not go ahead with her programme.

“They (the Trinamul Congress) are saying that the factory walls will be broken. But nothing will be gained by breaking the walls of Tata Motors. The Tatas will not move out of here. The small-car plant will be a unique one in the entire country,” he said.

The former chief minister recalled that Mamata had come to his home last year and told him there was land near the project site where ancillary units could be shifted.

“But I later found out that these were low-lying plots. So she should not stick to her demand,” Basu said.

Mamata seemed in no mood for a “compromise”. Reacting to Basu’s statement, she said: “I am ready for talks provided the 400 acres forcibly acquired from unwilling farmers is returned.”

She said that members of the Trinamul-backed Save Farmland Committee would meet on August 21 to “lend the final touches” to the Singur agitation plan.

In Siliguri, Bhattacharjee said: “We have decided that where the farmers or landowners do not want to part with their land, we will not take land.”

On August 5, the chief minister had told a gathering that the government would not budge from its industrialisation drive and that many Singurs would come up in Bengal in the future.

Trinamul spokesperson Partha Chatterjee today urged Bhattacharjee to set an example by returning the 400 acres in Singur.

“Through such a move, the chief minister can at least send a message to the people that he means what he says,” Chatterjee told a news conference. He said the party did not attach any importance to what Bhattacharjee had said in Siliguri.

“We have heard that Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee said in north Bengal that he would not acquire land for industry without the consent of the people. But we don’t trust him. Let him first speed up the return of the 400 acres. To us, he is a minister of mistakes.”

Mamata did not come to the news conference since she was speaking to breakaway Congress leader Somen Mitra at her Kalighat home.

Asked if Mamata would raise the demand for the return of 400 acres during her interactive session with industry captains on Tuesday, Chatterjee said: “She will answer all queries about her stand on industry in the state.”