Former West Bengal chief minister Jyoti Basu on Friday urged the opposition to shed political rivalries and cooperate with the state government in the implementation of the Tata Motors' "world class" Nano car project.
"I appeal to all those who are opposing the project to rise above political considerations and extend cooperation to the state government for fast implementation of the project in the interest of the people of the state," the 94-year-old Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) leader said in a statement.
His statement followed a meeting with CPI-M secretary Biman Bose at his Salt Lake residence in Kolkata.
"The car factory project is very vital for West Bengal's industrialisation and development. If this project is implemented, it will improve the employment scenario in the state," said Basu.
He also appealed to farmers whose land has been acquired for the project in Singur, about 40 km from here, to accept the new compensation package announced by the government. He cautioned that the state's image would be hit nationally and internationally if the "world-class project" moved out of West Bengal.
"On the other hand, if the project becomes a reality in Bengal, more investment will flow in to the state," he said.
The project, slated to roll out the world's cheapest car, has been facing resistance from farmers, supported by the Trinamool Congress, since it was announced in May 2006.
Many farmers have demanded the return of 400 acres "forcibly acquired" from "unwilling farmers".
With Banerjee laying siege at the factory site from August 24, Tata Motors has suspended work since Sep 2 fearing the security of its workers who were threatened by the protesters.
After a series of dialogues that involved Chief Minister Buddahdeb Bhattacharjee and Banerjee, the two sides seemed to be closing in on a solution after signing an agreement in the presence of Governor Gopalkrishna Gandhi Sep 7.
However, with the opposition sticking to its demand for return of the 400 acres, 300 acres from within the project area and 100 acres outside, and the government making it clear that it could at best spare 70 acres from the project zone, the truce seems on the verge of breakdown.
While the state government came out with a compensation package, Banerjee has signalled she would renew the protests.