Buddha shrugs off losses

Kolkata, May 30 | Updated: May 31 2007, 05:30am hrs
Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee on Wednesday, brushing aside the CPI(M) defeats in key local government byelections, said he believed that the people had voted for industrialization.

Citing the results from Singur and Salanpur, where the CPI(M) won the total of three gram panchayat seats up for grabs, Bhattacharjee told a rally of the CITU that the victories show that the people want industry.

"In Salanpur, the administration is acquiring land for a steel plant. Singur had sparked a huge debate. But the results have come our way," Bhattacharjee said, referring to the battle against farmland acquisition for industry that was born in Singur last year when the government decided to acquire around a 1000 acres for the Tatas' small-car project.

Flanked by former chief minister Jyoti Basu, Bhattacharjee outlined his industrial vision to the CITU gathering, seeking to end a groundswell of debate that the byelection defeats suffered today indicated that public mood is against him.

"We have to set up more industries," Bhattacharjee said. "Thousands of young men are banking on us. The Opposition parties are against setting up of industries but their stand has no logic."

"Why are you opposing the chemical hub" he asked the Opposition. "Is this a CPI(M) versus TMC issue"

The people will not forgive you, he said, referring to Mamata Banerjee's Trinamool Congress (TMC).

Bhattacharjee had written to all political parties earlier this month inviting them to suggest alternative locations for the projects that were planned at Nandigram but could not be implemented because of violent opposition to land acquisition.

Barring Mamata, none of the leaders has replied so far. And Mamata's reply was an outright "no" to land acquisition for the chemical hub at Haldia, without any hint of alternative locations.

At Wednesday's rally, Nandigram was on everybody's lips. CITU state president Shyamal Chakraborty said the opposition was misinforming the people all over the country about Nandigram, and the CITU would launch a three-month nationwide campaign to set out the right picture.

Md Amin, CITU general secretary, said the CITU would publish booklets to bring out the facts about Nandigram.

Wednesday's rally was organized to mark the conclusion of the two-day CITU all-India council meeting, which discussed Nandigram in detail before its comrades from other parts.