Mollah in Singur land flip-flop: political deal, not law, is key
KOLKATA, JUN 7: West Bengal's Land & land reforms minister Abdur Rezzak Mollah did an about turn on Thursday to announce that it would be possible to return some acquired land at Singur to farmers who do not wish to sell out, a day after he cited Supreme Court rulings and the law to say that acquired land cannot be returned.
Former chief minister Jyoti Basu had opened the question of returning some land after he stepped into the picture on Monday by holding a surprise meeting with Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee, after the much-touted May 24 all-party meeting had failed to resolve the issue.
Following the Basu-Mamata meeting, Mollah had met the former chief minister to explain the legal position. Mollah had explained that two Supreme Court orders state that a government cannot return land that has already been acquired.
But, party sources said, Basu is of the view that the government should yield to some of Mamata's demands to settle the simmering row over Singur, where the government acquired 997 acres last year for the Tata Motors' small-car project and its ancillaries.
Accordingly, Basu has asked Mollah to find a way out, especially after Mollah said publicly on Thursday that the law does not allow the return of any acquired land, sources said.
Today, Mollah said a political consensus is more important than administrative and legal issues for the Singur row.
"Once a political consensus is reached, we can find a legal way out," Mollah said Thursday.
The CPI(M) state secretariat is scheduled to meet on Friday, followed by a full meeting of the nine-party Left Front.
Separately, Mamata's Krishi Jomi Raksha Committee, which was formed to spearhead the battle against land acquisition at Singur, will meet to decide the course of action.
The committee will also discuss Nandigram, where the government had to drop plans for a special economic zone (SEZ) earlier this year following stiff opposition from farmers.
Trinamool sources said that Mamata is unlikely to yield an inch unless the government agrees to some demands, since Naxalites have joined her movement and are putting pressure on her.
"Already, some Naxalite groups are spreading talk that Mamata is in league with the CPI(M)," the Trinamool sources said.