CPM split on policy, not Bengal - State unit tries to clear 'confusion' on Singur

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By BISWAJIT ROY in Calcutta
  • Published 2.01.07
Brinda Karat and Chittabrata Majumdar

Calcutta, Jan. 2: The CPM today appeared divided on the need to articulate its policy on land acquisition for industry separately from its existing policy on special economic zones (SEZs), but united on Bengal’s land acquisition drive.

The party’s labour arm, Citu, some state units and allies have been asking for a “uniform stand on land acquisition across the country” in view of the row over Singur.

Land acquisition is one of the key issues to be discussed at the CPM central committee’s three-day session that began at Alimuddin Street this morning and Singur found mention in party general secretary Prakash Karat’s inaugural “review of (the) current political-organisational situation” in the country.

Sources said Karat pointed out how “anti-Left forces led by Trinamul and the BJP” had tried to extract political mileage out of Singur.

The Bengal unit distributed among central committee members (CCMs) the English and Hindi translations of write-ups by industries minister Nirupam Sen and leader Benoy Konar on Singur and other land-related issues.

The booklets defended the Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee government’s acquisition of agricultural land for the Tata Motors project and detailed the compensation being given to landlosers.

“They were meant to clear any confusion over Bengal’s land acquisition drive in other states. The Bengal leaders would also take questions later,’’ said a central committee member from the state.

Sources said central committee members from Haryana, Gujarat and Maharashtra lauded the state’s package, saying no consent was taken from landowners in their states during land acquisition.

“They felt that the Bengal party and the government should have provided them with these information to counter campaign on the CPM’s alleged double standards,” a central committee member said.

Brinda Karat felt the party’s policy on land acquisition for SEZs was enough, but her politburo colleague Chittabrata Majumdar, also the Citu general secretary, said the policy did not cover acquisition of land outside SEZs.

“There is nothing to update in our land policy. We now expect the Centre to make changes in the SEZ Act and other relevant acts as we have suggested,’’ Brinda told The Telegraph.

“That policy only speaks of land for SEZs. The party has so far not taken any decision on how to deal with land acquisition for other industries,’’ said Majumdar.

In a note to the Centre, the Left had demanded that the rules specify SEZs are located on “non-agricultural” land.

By saying there is no need to reopen the debate, the central leadership seems to be keeping in mind the compulsions of Bengal, where it is difficult to find vast stretches of non-farm land for industry.