Thunder fills talks vacuum - Statewide agitation on Mamata lips

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  • Published 25.08.08
Mamata Banerjee on Monday morning. Picture by Pradip Sanyal

Aug. 25: Mamata Banerjee today announced that she would take the Singur battle across the state.

“Our agitation will not stop here. We will open the acc- ount of our agitation across the state. Do not underestimate us,” Mamata thundered while announcing her course of action after receiving the chief minister’s letter seeking a peaceful resolution of the Singur impasse.

As over 6,000 to 8,000 people — near podium No. 8 along Durgapur Expressway — responded with applause, the Trinamul Congress leader promised to roll out her detailed plan tomorrow.

“Enough is enough.… We cannot bear any more humiliation,” Mamata said, hardening her stand on the return of 400 acres to farmers.

With the government initiating a process of dialogue with the Trinamul leader, there were hopes that the chief minister’s involvement may bring about a solution.

“But that seems unlikely given the tenor of today’s letter from the chief minister,” a Trinamul insider said, explaining Mamata’s decision to scale up the protests.

The Trinamul chief announced that the foundation day celebrations of the Trinamul Chhatra Parishad would be held at Singur, instead of the usual venue of Mahajati Sadan in Calcutta. “Students will converge at Singur for the Chhatra Parishad event to express solidarity with the unwilling farmers,” she said.

Some Trinamul leaders said she could have thought of putting an end to the dharna had the state been a “bit liberal” by making an “in-principle” announcement that the possibility of returning land could be explored. “Now we have to continue with the movement for some time, maybe for the next fortnight, till some way is found to claim political victory,” a Trinamul leader said.

After the letter was delivered to leader of Opposition Partha Chatterjee, Mamata went into a huddle with her close aides and representatives of the political parties supporting her dharna.

At the meeting, most leaders refused to accept the government’s “rigid stand” that there would be no alteration in the Tata small-car project’s structure and everything would have to be done within the legal and constitutional framework.

“Mamata said she may review the dharna plan only if the government becomes a little liberal and says that it is in principle agreeable to exploring ways to return the land to unwilling farmers. We are not rigid on the 400-acre count and that’s negotiable. But the government needs to give her some sort of concession so that she can call off the dharna,” a senior Trinamul MLA said.

During the closed-door meeting at the ante-room next to the dharna dais, Mamata explained her predicament to the other leaders.

“I have launched this movement to get something for the unwilling farmers of Singur. They voted for us during the panchayat polls and ousted the CPM from Singur. If the chief minister had specifically mentioned that he was willing to talk about the farmers who didn’t accept compensation cheques and ensure that some land would be given back, I could have considered responding to his call,” a Save Farmland Committee leader quoted Mamata as saying.