NATIONAL

"No talks without Singur on agenda"

Special Correspondent

Kolkata: "There can be no discussion [with the West Bengal Government] without including Singur" on the agenda, Trinamool Congress leader Mamata Banerjee said on Saturday. She also insisted that the land, which she alleges was forcibly acquired there for the Tata Motors car project, be returned and the acquisition process put on hold as a pre-condition for talks.

Addressing a rally in the Chanditola area on the outskirts of Singur, Ms. Banerjee accused the Government of falsely charging the Trinamool with being averse to talks. "This is a ploy to discredit us." Her party wanted development of industry and agriculture to go hand in hand "and not one at the cost of the other."

Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee has been inviting the Trinamool leadership for talks on matters of land acquisition for setting up industries.

Ms. Banerjee said her allies would "force them [the Tata Group] to bow their heads in shame" as it happened when the company was prevented from setting up a factory at Kalinganagar in Orissa. Her movement could not be stalled by putting up fence under the shelter of armed policemen, she said threatening that the compound wall being constructed at the Singur site would be pulled down.

Ms. Banerjee asked how more than a thousand workers could be engaged in the construction of the plant even as prohibitory orders under Section 144 Cr.PC were in force at Singur.

Her plans to hold the rally at Singur, defying the prohibitory orders, were dropped "to maintain peace." She said, "I will be going to Singur at a later date."

Assaulted

Before her arrival, some journalists including a cameraman of a local television channel were assaulted by a group at the rally venue. She demanded a CBI inquiry into the incident, which she claimed was part of a conspiracy to discredit her party.