A day after the Tatas announced suspension of work and plans to move the Nano project out of Singur, came the first signs of a forward movement. Talks between the West Bengal government and a five-member Trinamool Congress (TC) team will be held on September 5. TC chief Mamata Banerjee said a breakthrough could be in sight in 48 hours.
Governor Gopalkrishna Gandhi agreed to preside over the talks, but he refused to be viewed as a third party mediator. Gandhi’s decision to chair the meeting followed requests from Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee and Mamata.
The Governor will have preliminary discussions. He envisaged his exercise “as one that will result in a sense of shared, not one-sided, achievement.”
Addressing a rally at her dharna site, Mamata said, “the Governor has spoken to us and the state government. It seems that today or tomorrow, a constructive blueprint will be formulated for a solution.”
The government welcomed Mamata’s remarks as a “positive sign” and expressed the hope that the negotiations would yield positive results. When informed that Mamata was hopeful of a solution soon, industry minister Nirupam Sen said, “If she is positive enough, there is no reason why this problem cannot be resolved.”
Meanwhile, Singur witnessed sparks of violence around Mamata’s dharna site. On wednesday, incidents of brick batting and road blockades were reported from several places in and around Singur.
Trouble started when more than 300 men, including CPI(M) supporters and former Trinamool Congress activists – mostly local suppliers to the Tata small car project – took out a rally to protest against Mamata’s siege. Later, the Tata factory workers, contract labourers and suppliers held up traffic, demanding immediate action against Mamata for holding up National Highway 2 and for forcing Tata Motors to look for an alternative site for the small car factory.
The suppliers took out a procession and marched towards Mamata’s dharna site. But thousands of TC supporters prevented the procession from getting close to the stage. This led to a clash between the two groups. Home secretary Ashok Mohan Chakraborti said, “Things are now under control and we are trying to maintain law and order in the area. Police pickets were deployed at several points to prevent further clash.”