Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee has bluntly turned down Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee’s offer of talks to resolve the Singur imbroglio, saying no dialogue is possible till the government stops the acquisition of fertile land.
The Trinamool’s refusal was provoked by the chief minister’s announcement on Monday that though he was looking for dialogue with political parties, the Tata Motors project was non-negotiable and he was open only to suggestions on the revision of the rehabilitation and compensation package for evicted farmers.
An angry Mamata, who began her indefinite hunger strike on Monday, extended moral support to the Socialist Unity Centre of India-sponsored 24-hour Bangla bandh on Tuesday and announced a series of programmes aimed at direct confrontation with the government. After a meeting with the Krishi Jami Raksha Committee — the 20-party alliance led by her — Mamata announced that all main roads across the state would be blocked for two hours on Wednesday. Throwing a direct challenge to Bhattacharjee — who said Section 144 remain ion force in Singur for 20 more days — Mamata said a huge “March to Singur” would be organised on Thursday, defying prohibitory orders. “We will see how the police fires at us and how many of us they can arrest,” she said.
Bhattacharjee said fencing of the project site would be completed by Tuesday. “I had a talk with Ravi Kant (Tata Motors managing director) today. We are ready to hand over the land. Now the future of the project depends on them,” he said.
According to Mamata’s followers, her decision to spread the struggle beyond Singur is shaped by the realization that no further resistance is possible in Singur since the fencing is almost done and the area is crawling with policemen.
In Singur, policemen cordoned off the entire area and fencing work went on in full swing even as some villagers began a hunger strike demanding a stop to the land acquisition. Police were deployed even inside the villages and outsiders were kept out. Even social activist Medha Patkar and BJP president Rajnath Singh — in the state to show solidarity with the Trinamool — were not allowed into the area.
In Kolkata, two Revolutionary Students’ Front activists vandalised an authorized Tata Motors showroom on AJC Bose Road. They entered the place, confirmed it was the Tata Motors showroom and then smashed the window screens and put up posters, shouting slogans all the time. They then walked off.
The Singur issue also travelled all the way to Parliament, where BJP members protested the arrest of party president Rajnath Singh in the state, where he had gone to show solidarity with the Trinamool Congress. The protests forced the presiding officers of the two Houses to adjourn proceedings.