“We don’t want anybody to move out but at the same time, we will not bow to any kind of pressure¿ We will not give into any kind of blackmailing,” Banerjee said.
Her party, demanding a return of 400 acres of land, has planned an indefinite protest in collaboration with the Save Farmland Committee near the small-car plant at Singur on August 24.
The Tatas, she said, had been in the state for over a decade in the tea sector, but it has done little good to the people.
“Why did 10 workers die at the Tata plant in Jamshedpur?” she said. If the company felt for the people of Bengal, so many tea gardens in the state would not have to shut down. She also alleged that the government has unduly favoured the Tatas over the other industrialists.
Banerjee said the people of Singur had given a “clear verdict” against forcible land acquisition in the recent panchayat elections. The state government, she said, “should take a lesson from the verdict”.
‘People of the state want this’
Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee stepped in to pour oil pon troubled waters with an impromptu press conference at the Writers’ Buildings this evening.
“The state’s people want this important project,” Bhattacharjee said in an obvious reaction to Tata’s remark. But he hastily clarified that he would not comment directly on what Ratan Tata had said, since he had not heard Tata even on the television.
Pointing out that he and his ministers have already met the leaders of the Opposition to find a solution he said, “we want a solution, and I hope we can carry forward the discussions”.
“They had asked for some papers, which we sent today,” Bhattacharjee said. “They were also supposed to give us some papers, and I hope to get them soon.”
Addressing Ratan Tata’s concern about violence, he said anybody has the right to hold democratic protest. “But I don’t want unwanted violence. They have also assured us that the movement will be peaceful, and I hope they will keep their word,” he said.
Asked if the administration would impose prohibitory orders under Section 144CrPC, he said, “it will depend on the situation.”
‘Bengal should not fail to deliver’
Commerce Industries Minister Nirupam Sen found it hard to keep out his desperation — first at the business community in Kolkata and then at a CPM rally opposite the Tata Motors gate in Singur.
“We have been pushing for industrialisation ever since coming to power in 1977. Projects like this can only mean prosperity and employment,” he said in Singur.
Stressing that the venture is not anti-farmer, he took the opportunity to remind people that it was also necessary, especially in view of the “shutdown of jute mills, the Dunlop tyre factory and the sorry state of affairs at Hind Motors”.
“Foreign carmakers are making huge inroads in the country. The Nano is not only indigenous, but also the world’s cheapest car. The world is watching India with bated breath, Bengal should not fail to deliver.”
To the industry, at the Bengal Chamber of Commerce & Industries, he said no concessions had been given to the Tatas. The project had been won by Bengal against a better land deal from the Uttarakhand government. “If we have made concessions to the Tatas, it is only in this regard. Nothing has been compromised in terms of taxes.”