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What result will Mamta's fast yield?
December 11, 2006 12:31 IST
With both Mamta Banerjee and Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharya refusing to budge from their respective stands on the Singur issue, the Trinamool Congress supremo's hunger strike entered the eighth day on Monday keeping everyone guessing what would be the sequel to the dead end drama.
Banerjee, who had already spurned requests by the chief minister to give up her fast, also refused medical assistance late on Sunday night when doctors from a state-run hospital came for a health check up of the opposition leader.
Obviously at the instance of the government, the panel of doctors arrived the venue of her hunger strike in Kolkata's Esplanade area and wanted to measure her blood pressure and record the ECG graph.
But the treatment was refused by the maverick leader refusing any government help.
Sitting for the hunger strike, which she termed 'indefinite', in protest against acquistion of agricultural land at Singur in Hooghly district for the Tata Motors' small car project, the Trinamool 'didi' had also threatened the government of 'dire consequences' if attempts of 'force feeding' were made by forcibly taking her to a hospital.
In a bid to offer an escape route to the leader, who seemed to have slipped into a blind alley, and neutralise the rising anxiety over her state of health, the chief minister had sent an official request to Banerjee to withdraw the fasting and come to the negotiation table on the issues of compensation and rehabilitation of the local villagers, whose lands have been taken for the project.
But Banerjee had made it clear that she would not end the hunger strike nor talk to the chief minister until the government stopped acquiring land and lifted prohibitory orders under Section 144 CrPC, clamped in the area following a clash between police and political activists opposing the project.
But by that time most of the 998 acres of land required for the project had already been acquired and fenced and the owners received payments as compensation.
While making a generous offer for dialogue, Bhattacharya, however, asserted on different occasions that the small car factory, a prestige project for the government, would be executed at Singur itself.
Making a similar appeal to Banerjee, Communist Party of India-Marxist patriarch Jyoti Basu also said there was no question of shifting the site and the Trinamool leader could hold talks with the government for industrial training of the displaced people and for making bargains to earn further benefits for them.
The standoff, set to be heading nowhere, gave rise to speculation over the possibilities whether Banerjee would be forcibly fed or give up the fast at the request of top National Democratic Alliance leaders like Atal Bihari Vajpayee.
But while there has been no such request till now from the Bharatiya Janata Party headquarters in Delhi, a drastic step by the government was also not being viewed as an immediate likelihood, considering the political risk involved in it.
"We are not willing to allow her to corner political mileage by becoming a martyr nor are we going to use force which her party would exploit to create trouble in the state and launch campaigns against the government and the Left Front," a CPI-M state leader said.
"We have appealed to her a number of times. But she has put conditions. What more can we do? She should withdraw the hunger strike and enter into dialogue. That is the democratic process," Left Front chairman and CPI-M state secretary Biman Basu said indicating that the ball was now in the Trinamool leader's court rather than in the government's, as being sought to be projected.
The stand of the government was, however, made more clear by Transport Minister Subhash Chakraborty, "If things go like this, a time will come when her health will completely break down and she would need hospitalisation for saline drip and other medical support. If the government is prevented from taking her to hospital, it will be her party colleagues who will be doing that."