Protest, but peacefully, pleads CM

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  • Published 23.08.08

Calcutta, Aug. 22: Chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee today appealed to the Trinamul Congress to keep its Singur dharna peaceful but did not rule out imposition of Section 144 in the area.

The request came at a news conference at Writers’ Buildings hours after Ratan Tata threatened to put the small-car plant under lock and key because of continuing violence.

“Every political party has the right to agitate and launch a democratic movement and we have no problems with that. However, I am appealing to the Trinamul leadership to ensure that their agitation is peaceful as we don’t want violence or any untoward incident to occur. Trinamul leaders have told me their movement will be peaceful.”

Asked if that meant the government would not impose prohibitory orders in Singur from August 24, when the dharna is slated to start, Bhattacharjee was evasive. “That would depend on the nature of the agitation. But I want a peaceful movement and nobody should indulge in violence.”

The chief minister said he had sent a set of papers on Singur to Trinamul and expected “some papers” back.

“During the August 20 meeting at Writers’ Buildings, we had explained our stand on Singur and the Trinamul leadership had conveyed its demands. Leader of Opposition Partha Chatterjee had asked for some papers. Accordingly, we sent a set of papers today. They, too, had agreed to send some papers to us.”

The chief minister stressed that “people want such a big and important project to come up in Singur” and that the “intention” of both the government and Trinamul was to arrive at a solution through talks.

Asked if the Nano would roll out by October, he said: “I am hopeful and optimistic about it.”

The chief minister refused to reveal details of the papers the government had sent to the Trinamul leadership. “That I shouldn’t say now as they may not have received the papers yet. But we are exchanging papers and this atmosphere should continue,” he said.

Asked if he was ready to sit at the talks table with Mamata Banerjee, Bhattacharjee said he had no problems meeting the Trinamul chief or anybody else from her party.

“I believe that a solution to the impasse can emerge only through discussions with the Opposition. I am ready to sit with any leader of the Trinamul Congress and the Opposition to discuss Singur and reach a solution.”

The chief minister refused to react to Ratan Tata’s threat to pull out of Singur. “I haven’t seen what Ratan Tata has said on television. So it would not be good and wise to comment on what he has said. I will have to collect information first and go through tomorrow’s newspapers before making any statement.”

But industries minister Nirupam Sen was ready with a response today. “If they (the Tatas) are forced to leave Singur because of trouble and demonstrations, it would be unfortunate.”

Chatterjee, the leader of the Opposition, said Trinamul was willing to participate in the second round of the talks. “We have no problem discussing Singur again with the government. But everything will go down the drain if the government does not budge from its stand. It has to first think about returning 400 acres to unwilling farmers,” he said.