Mamata ends 25-day hunger strike
In a dramatic midnight denouement, Trinamool Congress leader Mamata Banerjee ended her 25-day fast protesting the location of a Tata car project after intervention by both the president and the prime minister.
Mamata broke her fast at midnight on Thursday after receiving a letter from Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.
The letter was faxed to the office of West Bengal Governor Gopal Krishna Gandhi that was immediately delivered to Mamata, who was protesting the Tata project at Singur on the grounds that it would eat away 997 acres of fertile farmland.
"I thank all the political parties for their support," Mamata told her supporters at Esplanade, the venue of the fast.
She will be admitted to a nursing home for a while to enable her recuperate.
Mamata's decision came on a day of dramatic developments during which President APJ Abdul Kalam expressed "serious concern" over her health and spoke to Manmohan Singh to stress the need to find a way to resolve the issue. Kalam also appealed to Mamata to end the stir as "life is precious".
"The president spoke to the Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh 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 press release - the second of the day - issued by Rashtrapati Bhavan said.
A third press release late in the night contained Kalam's appeal to Mamata.
"I had expressed my deep concern about your health when I spoke to the chief minister of West Bengal two days ago and even this morning. Life is precious, Mamataji, please end your fast," the president's appeal said.
Kalam on Thursday also spoke to West Bengal Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharya for the second time on the issue, even as a delegation of the opposition National Democratic Alliance, which included former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, called on the president to urge his intervention in the matter.
In Kolkata, an emissary of the chief minister met Trinamool leaders around 6:30 pm and delivered another letter inviting Mamata for talks on the Singur issue.
Meanwhile, reports were received from Howrah near Kolkata about a passenger bus being set on fire by angry Trinamool Congress supporters who were upset over their leader's deteriorating condition since Tuesday.
Earlier in the day, a seven-member medical team constituted by the Trinamool Congress monitored Mamata's deteriorating condition.
The medical team, led by physician Sudarshan Ghosh Dastidar, examined Mamata who had again to be put on oxygen. The doctors attending on her said her blood pressure had dropped to 96/52, coupled with low pulse rate, chest pain and muscle cramp.
Her condition is worrisome, the doctors said, adding that though Mamata needed to take some oral fluids, she had refused it.
The West Bengal governor on Wednesday night called on Mamata with a fresh appeal to withdraw her fast.