Special Correspondent

"Please give up hunger strike, sit for discussions"

  • Buddhadeb not for "any drastic action" against Mamata
  • Stop acquisition, extend official invitation for talks: Mamata

    Kolkata: West Bengal Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee on Thursday renewed his appeal to Trinamool Congress leader Mamata Banerjee to call off her hunger-strike in protest against the alleged forcible acquisition of farmland for the Singur project.

    An attempt by Governor Gopalkrishna Gandhi to persuade Ms. Banerjee to do so after personally visiting her on Wednesday night failed.

    Regretting that Ms. Banerjee could not be convinced to withdraw her strike despite the Governor's attempt, Mr. Bhattacharjee said that he "was again appealing to her to please give up the hunger-strike and please sit for discussions [on the Singur issue] and start a dialogue with the Government."

    "My duty"

    "If she is serious I am willing to discuss anything with her, it is my duty," Mr. Bhattacharjee said, adding that he was "against taking any drastic action" to break up her demonstration. "I don't like [to do such things]," he said.

    "If there has to be any discussion then Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee has to first stop acquisition of land [for the Singur project] and extend to me an official invitation [for talks]," Ms. Banerjee later said, in response to the Chief Minister's offer of talks.

    Mr. Bhattacharjee told industrialists at an interactive session on Thursday that he believed the misgivings over the Singur project would be sorted out within the next few days.

    Mr. Bhattacharjee, who spoke over telephone to senior Trinamool Congress leader Saugata Roy earlier in the afternoon said he had asked Mr. Roy to communicate his appeal to Ms Banerjee.

    Mr. Roy was part of a group of Trinamool Congress leaders which organised roadside meetings at Baidyabati, about 20 km from Singur, as part of the party's plans to "March to Singur."

    Mr. Bhattacharjee said when he asked Mr. Roy whether he had "any problems with the police" who have cordoned off Singur in view of prohibitory orders promulgated there, Mr. Roy said he had not faced any.

    Ms. Banerjee, who was prevented on two occasions to visit the Singur area, did not participate in her party's programme at Baidyabati.

    Social activist Medha Patkar, who is also agitating against the alleged occupation of farmland at Singur, addressed a meeting at Nandigram in Purbo Mednipur organised in protest against plans to acquire land in the area for setting up a chemical hub as part of a Special Economic Zone.