NDA leaders to meet Kalam on Singur row

via PTI published on December 27, 2006

NEW DELHI: Stepping up its campaign on the Tata motors project, the NDA on Wednesday decided to seek presidential intervention in the Singur row, warning that the CPM and the congress would be “solely responsible” if anything unfortunate happened to Trinamool chief Mamata Banerjee, whose hunger strike has entered the 24th day.

It expressed solidarity with its ally Banerjee, calling her hunger strike “death-defying agitation to safeguard the land and livelihood of farmers”.

“Farmers in the country will never forgive the anti-people governments in West Bengal and at the Centre, if anything were to happen to Banerjee,” it said in a resolution after a meeting at former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s residence.

Ahead of Assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh and Punjab, the BJP-led Opposition alliance appeared to be using the Singur issue to reach out to farmers across the poll-bound states. It came out with a three-point charter of demand, including renegotiation with Tata to give up multi-crop land in Singur, to resolve the row.

“Those farmers and cultivators, who have not given consent or not taken the cheques offered by the State government against their land, must be returned their land with immediate effect,” it said.

The NDA demanded Prime Minister Manmohan Singh speak “forthrightly” with Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee and ask him to “get off the high horse and recognise the explosive nature of the situation”.

“We have decided to meet the President, possibly tomorrow (on Thursday), to seek his intervention,” BJP leader Vijay Kumar Malhotra said after the meeting.

“The Prime Minister should have met Banerjee. If anything happens to her, 70 per cent of the country’s farmers will not forgive the Congress and the Left,” Malhotra said.

Wednesday’s meeting was attended among others by Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) chief Parkash Singh Badal, the JD-U’s Sharad Yadav and Prabhunath Singh, B K Tripathi of the BJD, Trinamool’s Dinesh Trivedi, Eknath Thakur of the Shiv Sena and BJP leaders L K Advani, Rajnath Singh and Jaswant Singh.

It came a day after Rajnath Singh visited Banerjee for a second time in a month since she began her fast.

“The NDA notes with dismay the double standards of the Union government, which rushed a team led by the Water Resources Minister when a handful of agitators created disturbances in connection with the raising of the height of the Sardar Sarovar dam,” the alliance resolution said.

The BJP has also of late gone tough on special economic zones, with the party deciding at its recent Lucknow conclave to seek a probe into the Centre’s approval to all SEZs over the past six months.

“There is no justification for seizing fertile, multi-crop land from hapless agriculturists when industries can easily be set up on uncultivated, or at best, single crop-producing land,” the NDA said.

In his comments, Trinamool’s Trivedi accused the West Bengal government of tyranny. “It is like East India Company or Mughals ruling the State,” he remarked.

Faced with elections in Punjab, Badal also endorsed the BJP’s viewpoint that farmers’ consent should be obtained and a good package should be given to them before acquiring their land for industrial use.

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