President APJ Abdul Kalam spoke to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to express concern over the health of Trinamool Congress leader Mamata Banerjee, whose hunger strike on the Singur issue entered the 25th day.
Kalam wanted a way to be found to end the stalemate to enable her to end the fast. He spoke to the PM after he spoke to West Bengal Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee on Thursday morning for the second time in two days since Banerjee resorted to the protest action against the acquisition of farmland at Singur for Tata Motors project.
Kalam's talks with the PM and the CM took place as NDA leaders led by AB Vajpayee called on him in Rastrapati Bhavan to brief him on the condition of Banerjee and to urge the Centre to intervene to end her fast. Vajpayee sought Kalam's personal intervention to save her life.
"The President spoke to the Prime Minister today and expressed his serious concern and emphasised the need to find a way to end the stalemate and to enable her to end the fast," a Rashtrapati Bhavan spokesperson said.
He said Kalam has "expressed his serious concern over the deteriorating health" of Banerjee and enquired about her health when he spoke to Bhattacharjee. The President had spoken to Bhattacharjee on the issue two days ago.
The Prime Minister had on Wednesday instructed that the Eastern Army Command authorities extend whatever medical care required for Banerjee who has turned down medical attention from the state government.
The chief minister said he was ready for a dialogue on the Singur issue. He also sent a fresh letter to Banerjee, urging her to call of the indefinite fast.
Banerjee wants that land "forcibly" acquired from farmers for the Tatas' project at Singur be returned to farmers.
Kalam informed NDA leaders that he had spoken to the chief minister to express his concern. Meanwhile, the CM sent a fresh communication to Banerjee to end her fast.
"We requested him to intervene to save the life of Banerjee," NDA convenor George Fernandes told reporters after almost a 20-minute meeting with the President.
BJP chief Rajnath Singh, who has visited the Trinamool leader twice this month, said both the Centre and especially the state government could step in to save her life.
"The ball is now in the court of (West Bengal Chief Minister)," the BJP chief said when asked what he expected from the state government over Banerjee's hunger strike.
Singh said Kalam was also worried about her health and has inquired about her condition from Bhattacharjee. "He (Kalam) told us that he has spoken to the chief minister ten days ago and this morning. The NDA wants West Bengal to re-negotiate with Tata Motors to give up the multi-crop land at Singur and accept an alternate site for setting up their township and real estate project."
The Opposition leaders also want that the disputed land should be returned to those farmers and cultivators who had not given consent and/or not taken cheques offered by the state government in lieu of their land.
The NDA delegation that called on Kalam included JD (U) leader Sharad Yadav, Shiromani Akali Dal's Sukhbir Singh Badal, Eknath Thakur of Shiv Sena, BJD's BK Tripathi and BJP leaders VK Malholtra and Sushma Swaraj.