Mamata cold to CM appeal

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By OUR SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT in Calcutta
  • Published 22.04.07
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Calcutta, April 22: Mamata Banerjee today responded to the chief minister’s appeal not to set up anti-acquisition forums in places on investors’ radar by vowing to form them wherever the government planned to acquire farmland.

“We’ll float Krishi Jomi Raksha Committees in all places across Bengal for a vigorous movement against acquisition of farmland,” the Trinamul Congress chief told a convention of her party’s minority cell.

Only yesterday, Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee had called upon the Opposition parties not to set up anti-land acquisition committees and requested them to help build a consensus on industrialisation.

Mamata also turned down Bhattacharjee’s offer of a dialogue on industry. “I don’t like to speak to a person who kills innocent people,” she said, referring to last month’s police firing in Nandigram, which killed 14.

This is the seventh time — since Mamata went on a fast against the Tata Motors project in Singur in December — that she has spurned the chief minister’s talks offer.

“The chief minister is an evil force and so the question of a dialogue with him does not arise,” Mamata said today.

She accused the Congress of striking a deal with the CPM to cling to power at the Centre.

At a Congress rally yesterday, former state party chief Somen Mitra had said the Congress could join Mamata’s forum to protest against “forcible acquisition”.

“I left the Congress in 1997 because it had surrendered to the CPM. And the party has not changed,” Mamata said.

She tried to use the convention to reaffirm her secular credentials — despite being a BJP partner —and alleged that the CPM and the Congress resort to communal politics for Muslim votes. “Ours is a secular party, and never stoops to communal politics,” she said.

Mamata was angry at Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and information and broadcasting minister Priya Ranjan Das Munshi for not “attaching any importance” to her fast. “I was on a 26-day hunger strike at Esplanade last December but the Prime Minister did not bother to visit me despite being in Calcutta... because of the CPM’s support to the UPA government,” she said.

Das Munshi, who had turned up at her hunger strike venue with a request to call it off, was also not spared. “He didn’t even use the ministry’s letterhead to address me,” she said, adding that it was done to “keep the CPM in good humour”.