Special Correspondent

“Return land which was forcibly acquired”

We will go ahead with our agitation from August 24: Mamata

Biman Bose: talks be first held with State government

KOLKATA: Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee on Thursday said she was open to the idea of talks with Tata Motors. But the company should ask the West Bengal government to ensure that land acquired from farmers “against their will” was returned, if it wanted the Singur car plant to start operations, she told journalists here.

Matter of courtesy

“I am not sending any message but if they [the Tatas] want to talk to me we will respond. This is a matter of courtesy… The State government should take the initiative [for the talks],” Ms. Banerjee said to a question about the possibility of a meeting.

The Tata Motors authorities are “not averse to talking to anyone,” a company spokesperson told The Hindu.

Asked about Ms. Banerjee’s statement, Biman Bose, CPI(M) State Secretary, said any move to “come to the discussion table” was welcome.

“But I feel it necessary that talks be first held with the State government; talks with the Tatas can be an offshoot of that.” Meanwhile, the government has strengthened security in and around the project site in view of the Trinamool decision to intensify the stir.

The party threatened to stage sit-ins outside the site from August 24 until 400 acres, which it alleged was forcibly taken for the plant (out of 997 acres acquired) is given back to its owners.

‘Not against plant’

Her party was not against the plant coming up provided the land in question was returned, Ms. Banerjee said.

“The State government will be responsible, if there is any disturbance. It is a fight for survival [of the affected farmers].”