cm regrets 'paid back in same coin' remark
Statesman News Service
NEW DELHI, Dec. 4: Mr Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee today admitted that Nandigram was an "administrative and political failure" and regretted his remarks that those opposing land acquisition there had been "paid back in the same coin". "We have to ensure that Nandigram does not repeat itself. We have learnt lessons from Nandigram that we have to take people into confidence... We have failed in Nandigram. It was an administrative and political failure," he told a Press conference here. Asked about his remarks after the recapture of Nandigram that those opposed to the CPI-M and land acquisition had been "paid back in the same coin", he said: "I should not have said that. Now I want peace for all.". To a question whether the process of industrialisation in the state had suffered due to the Nandigram situation, Mr Bhattacharjee said: "Nandigram or no Nandigram, the process of industrialisation in West Bengal cannot be stopped."
He said no corporate house, business group or foreign company had said they would withdraw from the state. "In fact, major foreign companies from Japan, the USA, Singapore and Dubai have sent proposals" to invest in the state. On the chemical hub which was supposed to have come up at Nandigram, Mr Bhattacharjee said it was now being set up at Nayachar, which did not have any habitation nor was the land arable.
The chief minister said the situation in the troubled Nandigram blocks was "fast returning to normal" and most of those who had been evicted had already returned. A total of Rs one crore had so far been spent by the Left Front government for their rehabilitation, including reconstruction and repair of damaged houses, roads, bridges as also supply of clothings, utensils and fertiliser mini-kits for the farmers to sow the rabi crop, he said. (The home secretary said in Kolkata the state government was ready to implement a High Court order to pay Rs 5 lakhs as compensation to the relatives of those killed in police firing, though the government would move the Supreme Court against the order. The home secretary said a state police officer had been showcaused following CRPF complaints that the state police were releasing those who were being arrested by the CRPF). The chief minister said a senior official had been sent to the area to prepare a report on what kind of development projects could be implemented in the Nandigram area. "As soon as we get this report, I will announce the projects." Asked when he would visit Nandigram, the chief minister said he would not do so now as his first task was to restore normalcy and the farmers were also busy cultivating the rabi crop. "Let the situation get back to normal."
To questions on his relations with Governor Mr Gopal Krishna Gandhi who spoke out against the CPI-M led government on the issue, he said the Governor was a "very nice man" and he has had very cordial relations with him. "There has been no problem (with him) at all. We not only discuss administrative and political issues but literature also. We also exchange books... he is a nice man," he said, and denied reports of any no move to seek a change of Governor.
On Maoist presence in Nandigram, he said the bunkers and trenches dug up in the area, the mine and other arms found clearly indicated their presence in the affected area. He maintained that the Maoists had come from outside the state, including from Jharkhand. "The CRPF is doing a good job in unearthing the arms and ammunition piled up by them."
Regarding the 14 May police firing on protesters in the area and the alienation of intellectuals from the Left, he said "no one can accept (police firing) ... intellectuals are very sensitive. My duty is to explain to all of them the actual situation. Many of them have now been convinced."
On differences among the Left Front partners over the Nandigram episode, he admitted difference of opinion on some issues but asserted that the Front was "different" from the UPA or any other coalition cobbled before elections. "The Left Front has had a long history of struggle". Asked about comparisons between him and former Chinese leader Deng Xiao Ping, Mr Bhattacharjee said he was a "great visionary and I am a small fry. The people will judge what I am doing."
On Hill Council
As Lok Sabha deferred consideration of two Bills relating to the Gorkha Hill Council today and the government expressing readiness to refer these to a Parliamentary Standing Committee, Mr Bhattacharjee said major Opposition parties in Parliament, including BJP, were not opposed to the measure. He met Leader of Opposition Mr LK Advani last night and spoke to his Orissa and Bihar counterparts to elicit their support for the legislation. Regarding his meeting with Mr Advani, he told reporters that the senior BJP leader told him though he had no problem with the contents of the Bills, his party opposed the manner in which the UPA government wanted to push them forward. The chief minister told Mr Advani that he was well aware of the Gorkha issue as he had held the home ministry for long and sought his and the BJP's support for passage of the legislation. He also spoke on phone to Orissa chief minister Mr Navin Patnaik and his Bihar counterpart Mr Nitish Kumar on the matter. Mr Patnaik, who also heads the ruling BJD, apparently assured him of support while Mr Kumar said he would discuss the issue with his party president.
He said he discussed the Taslima Nasreen issue with external affairs minister Mr Pranab Mukherjee and it was up to the Centre to decide on the matter. Mr Bhattacharjee said he would not comment when asked whether the visa of the controversial Bangladeshi writer, who was shifted from Kolkata following violence in the city over her stay there, be extended.
"I have spoken to Pranabda. Now, it is up to the Centre to take a decision on the matter," he said. Referring to the anti-Taslima violence, he said some forces were trying to divide Bengal communally.
Mr Bhattacharjee said he briefed the Prime Minister about the largest private steel plant of the country, to be established by the Jindal group, in the Salboni area. He said the Prime Minister had accepted his invitation to lay the foundation stone of the project in January end. On other industrial projects, he said while two more steel plants were coming up at Purulia and Bardhaman, a biotech park was being established by IIT, Kharagpur, in collaboration with the University of Berkeley. He also briefed the Prime Minister on the progress of the establishment of a deep-sea port in the state. Shipping and Surface Transport Minister Mr TR Baalu would soon visit Kolkata to discuss the project.