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Vajpayee leads NDA team to Kalam

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COMFORTING GESTURE: The granddaughter of Mahatma Gandhi, Sumitra Kulkarni, calling on Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee, in Kolkata on Thursday.
COMFORTING GESTURE: The granddaughter of Mahatma Gandhi, Sumitra Kulkarni, calling on Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee, in Kolkata on Thursday.

Special Correspondent

Seeks his "personal intervention" to save the life of fasting Mamata Banerjee

NEW DELHI: The former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee on Thursday led a delegation of National Democratic Alliance (NDA) leaders to President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam and sought his "personal intervention" to save the life of the fasting Trinamool Congress leader Mamata Banerjee.

Ms. Banerjee's hunger strike against acquisition of farmland for a Tata Motors project at Singur in West Bengal entered the 25th day, raising concerns at her health.

Speaking to mediapersons after the 30-minute meeting, NDA convener George Fernandes said the President told the delegation that he had spoken to Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharya twice including on Thursday morning.

BJP president Rajnath Singh said Mr. Vajpayee urged the President to personally intervene in the matter. Mr. Kalam said he too was "worried" about the TMC leader's condition. "We believe the President will make efforts at his level to save Ms. Banerjee's life."

The ball is in CM's court

Answering questions, Mr. Singh said the United Progressive Alliance Government should have impressed upon the State Government to resolve the issue. "Because UPA is not doing it, the NDA has taken this initiative. The ball is now in the Chief Minister's court. He should come up with a proposal [to resolve the issue].''

Asked what could defuse the situation, Dinesh Trivedi, Trinamool member in the Rajya Sabha, separately said the West Bengal Government should agree for unconditional talks. "The Chief Minister should agree in principle to return the land of those farmers who had not taken compensation or given consent to part with their land."

Reacting to industrialist Ratan Tata's statement that competitors were against a Tata Motors project coming up in West Bengal, Mr Trivedi said: "If he said that, he must have the courage of conviction to give the name of the competitors."

Besides Mr. Vajpayee, Mr. Fernandes and Mr. Trivedi, the delegation included Sharad Yadav and Prabhunath Singh (Janata Dal-United), Eknath Thakur (Shiv Sena), Sukhbir Singh Badal (Akali Dal), Brij Kishore Tripathi (Biju Janata Dal) and BJP leaders V.K. Malhotra and Sushma Swaraj.


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