Buddha welcomes Basu-Mamata peace talks


Kolkata : West Bengal Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharya Tuesday welcomed Monday night's dramatic meeting between communist patriarch Jyoti Basu and Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee to pave the way for an all-party peace initiative on trouble-torn Nandigram.

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"The talks between Joyti Basu and Mamata Banerjee over Nandigram were quite successful. They discussed Nandigram but I don't know exactly what (views) they exchanged over Singur (the site of Tata Motors car plant)," Bhattacharya told reporters at the state secretariat Writers' Building here.

He said Nandigram peace talks had already started but "after yesterday's meeting I expect some positive development for restoring normalcy in the clash-ridden region".

"I talked to Joyti Basu Monday and we would again have talks over what he had discussed," Bhattacharya added.

The chief minister along with Industry Minister Nirupam Sen, Land Reforms Minister Rezzak Mollah and Left Front chairman Biman Bose met Joyti Basu at his residence to further discuss the issues related to protests against land acquisition for industry.

On May 24, an eagerly awaited all-party peace meet had collapsed after an angry walkout by Banerjee over using the word "genocide" in the draft proposal of the meeting. The CPI-M had refused to term the March 14 police firing in Nandigram as "genocide".

But the Basu-Mamata talks rekindled hopes of a political consensus on Nandigram and Singur with Basu promising Trinamool chief to look into her arguments on the Tata car project and the Nandigram violence.

"There are attacks on Nandigram from Khejuri (a CPI-M stronghold), I am told. It must be by my party's local units," Basu admitted Monday and hoped that Banerjee, being the top opposition leader, would work for peace in the area.

Former chief minister Basu, 94, also said that a car factory does not need more than 600 acres – as against 997 acres given to Tata Motors – and promised Banerjee of talks with the government and leaders to accommodate her demands.

Over 997 acres of land in Singur, about 40 km from Kolkata in Hooghly district, have been chosen by Tata Motors for its small car project. The land acquisition for the project has triggered a violent face-off between the government and farmers led by civil society groups and parties like the Trinamool.

While some farmers committed suicide in Singur, at least 21 people have been killed, hundreds injured and several women raped in the continuing violence in Nandigram, about 150 km from here in East Midnapore district, since January over possible land acquisition for a special economic zone (SEZ) project in collaboration with Indonesia's Salim Group.