September 20, 2008
I Am Open for Talks on Singur Package
KOLKATA: Singur is headed for a showdown yet again. Chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee says he doesn't want a confrontation, but has categorically ruled out giving more than 70 acres of land from the Nano site.
A miffed Mamata Banerjee has threatened to go on the warpath "any day after September 19". So, chances of the Tatas starting operations in Singur seem remote.
With the government and the opposition still locking horns over the land issue, the focus rests on Raj Bhavan. All eyes are fixed on governor Gopalkrsihna Gandhi, to see if he can show the way.
The chief minister claims to have put all his cards on the negotiation table and says he cannot stretch himself beyond the announced 70 acres from the Tata Motors compound. The opposition insists that he can, at least, find 100 acres inside. Leader of the opposition Partha Chattopadhyay will call on the governor on Friday to say how the government has "flouted" the Raj Bhavan agreement and "cheated the opposition". After that, it's back to war for Mamata and her brigade.
The CM, however, believes that the government has not broken its promise. "Till September 7, we were talking of 40 acres of WBIDC land (inside) and another 50 acres outside. Then we decided not to acquire land outside and offered 70 acres from inside. That is the maximum the government can offer to keep the (Nano) project and its viability intact. The government came up with an improved package as well. But the Trinamool Congress leader refused to accept this," the CM said on Wednesday.
The CM's firm stand on return of land has left Mamata fuming. "It's an insult to the governor. How could the government finalize its stand when the governor is out of town?". The Trinamool chief sees in the CM's "hurried" press conference a design to "pre-empt" Gandhi's move.
"Since the Singur agreement had been signed in the governor's presence we want to wait till his return. He may have some suggestions," she said.
Bhattacharjee also contested Mamata's claim that the government has dumped the panel set up to ascertain the scope of providing land from within the project area.
"The committee is still there. Discussions started on September 9 and the members visited the Singur project area to inspect the land. But they couldn't agree on a single issue. I thought of taking up the matter on my own because the panel was heading nowhere. I invited the Trinamool chief to talks to sort out the imbroglio. But she did not accept the offer. I am open for talks on the package. In fact, I tried it on September 15," the CM said.
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