Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee issued her "last warning" to chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee on Saturday asking him to return land taken from unwilling farmers of Singur for the Tata Motors' small car project.
Though she did not spell out what she would do if the chief minister refused to pay heed to her warning, she said that the consequences of refusing her demand would be entirely the government's. "If there is breach of peace, the responsibility will be entirely yours," she told the government.
Mamata asked the people of Singur to camp beside the boundary wall being erected around the Tata Motors' small car project site. "Start camping beside the wall. Take your utensils and start cooking there. The movement will ultimately bring down the wall, I assure you," she told the crowd.
Mamata's rally was organised by the Krishi Jami Raksha Committee to celebrate withdrawal of section 144 from Singur after the Calcutta High Court observed that imposition of prohibitory orders had been an instance of "abuse of power" by the government.
The gathering at the small Bharati Vidya Mandir School ground beside Kamarkundu Railway station was tumultuous over the withdrawal of section 144 but was, strangely enough, not impressive in strength.
The procession that came from inside Singur contained hardly 400 men, women and children. When Mamata urged the gathering to raise their hands and show their land deeds to demonstrate that they had not given away their land, barely a hundred hands were raised.
Those who came from Singur and elsewhere, however, were ecstatic and cheered as Trinamool leader and advocate Kalyan Banerjee explained to them how the government lost the case on imposition of section 144 in Singur.
"Prohibitory orders had been imposed here for 75 days to set up a private car factory. Your democratic rights had been curbed. This is unprecedented in the country. The High court has quashed it. Many more embarrassments are in store for this government," Banerjee said.
The Krishi Jami Raksha Committee lined up a number of star speakers for the victory rally - notable among them being rural economy specialist Debabrata Bandyopadhyay.
Rolling out statistics, Bandyopadhyay said that though 18 per cent of land in Bengal was unsuitable for cultivation and a whopping 78,000 acres was not cultivated in Hooghly itself where Singur is located, the government was specifically targeting fertile land for industry.
Singer Kabir Sumon urged the gathering to demolish the boundary wall and said he was prepared to go to jail for making such an appeal.
"What is the shame in admitting your mistake?" Mamata asked the government. "It had been my mistake to quit the post of railway minister. I admit it openly. You too accept your mistake and return land to the unwilling farmers," she said.
Commenting on the state government's threat to re-impose section 144 if necessary, Mamata said, "If you give provocation, be prepared to face the consequences."