The shadows of Singur, Nandigram and Kalinga have loomed large over the comments and suggestions made by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Finance Minister P Chidambaram at various public functions in the Capital since Monday.
On Tuesday, Chidambaram cautioned the private sector to tread carefully while entering the rural and agricultural sector, stressing that the "sacred" relationship between the tiller and land should be respected.
The issue of land acquisition for industrial use has snowballed into a major controversy with the last few weeks' violence in Singur in West Bengal, where Tata Motors plans to set up a car manufacturing plant. Land in Nandigram — also in West Bengal — was to be given to the Indonesian Salim Group for setting up a motorcycle plant.
Kalinga in Orissa witnessed clashes between the government and tribals over land acquisition for setting up a Special Economic Zone last year.
"There is a sacred tie between the tiller and the land. That tie can never be broken. Any attempt to snap this relationship is bound to face opposition," he said at the Pravasi Bharatiya Divas function before reiterating it at a Federation of Indian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) function in the afternoon.
The statement is particularly significant as he was sharing the dais with Tata Sons chairman Ratan Tata.
Just the previous day Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had stated that the government would finalise within three months a new rehabilitation policy to deal with issues arising from land acquisition for industrial use.
There is a need to bring about a dramatic change in the growth rate in agriculture, as has been accomplished in industry and services, Chidambaram said. "There is a huge opportunity for private enterprises in agriculture and related activities," he said, calling for using knowledge of new agricultural practices to enhance productivity.
Efforts to get a comment from Ratan Tata on Singur at the event were thwarted by his media managers.
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