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Buddha says sorry for anti-bandh remarks
Published on 29 Aug. 2008 11:51 PM IST
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In a turnaround, West Bengal Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee has said that he regrets his anti-bandh remarks. The CITU state president said the chief minister accepted his mistake during the CPM state meeting. Buddhadeb’s regret comes after the CPM politburo issued a statement seen as censure. According to sources the CPM was planning action against West Bengal Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee for his anti-bandh remarks. CPM Central Committee members had written to West Bengal party state secretary Biman Bose on the issue. Biman Bose was asked to call a state level meeting immediately. The politburo wanted an explanation from the West Bengal chief minister. On Thursday, the CPM in a terse two-line statement said it “stands for the right to strike by the working class as a fundamental right”. Explaining that the party wanted to clarify its stand “in the context of certain remarks made by Bhattacharjee in a meeting of Assocham in Kolkata”, CPM said, “It has consistently supported all-India general strikes of the trade unions against the neo-liberal policies of the central government and other urgent issues of the working class and toiling people.” At the Assocham meet on Tuesday, the West Bengal chief minister said, “Personally, I don’t support bandhs. Bandhs do not help us or the country. Unfortunately, I belong to a political party. They call strikes and I keep mum. But I have decided to open up the next time,” the CM said, in reply to a question from Biswadeep Gupta, joint managing director, JSW Bengal Steel, at the Assocham meet on Tuesday. And on gherao, he said it was “illegal and unethical”. His statement was met with shock in Left circles. A week ago, the Left had celebrated a nationwide bandh — that paralyzed no other state but Bengal — as a “great success”. Bhattacharjee’s public statement against bandhs and gheraos — true-blue Left weapons — marks a sharp departure from his predecessor Jyoti Basu, who kept on saying that strike was the last resort of the workers, and they should not mortgage it to any government. The CM has also rejected Trinamool’s demand for the return of 400 acres of Tata Motors’ Nano factory site to farmers. “I cannot afford to return the 400 acres. If that land has to be returned, (then) Tata Motors project has to be dropped. I cannot allow this to happen,” he said, adding, “It was not legally possible to return the land. I am not an egoist.” Centre not to intervene in Singur standoff NEW DELHI, AUG 29 (IANS): Even as the standoff persists over the Tata Motors’ Nano car project in Singur, the central government Friday made it clear that it will not intervene in the issue and underlined the need for “balancing investment and justice”. “We should not damage the investors’ confidence in the country. We should not be unjust to people,” Science and Technology Minister Kapil Sibal told reporters here when asked whether the government was planning to play the facilitator in the Singur case. “There is no role for the central government in this. This is for the state government to decide. The state government should act,” he stressed. “We need an investor-friendly climate. Investment is not an end in itself. It should come with justice,” he said after a cabinet meeting presided over by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. Sibal’s remarks come even as security was tightened at the Tata’s plant in Singur after protesters blocked entry to the factory Thursday evening. The Trinamool Congress is spearheading the campaign to force the state government to accept its demand of returning 400 acres of land, which the party claims was forcibly taken from farmers. Ratan Tata, chairman of Tata Sons, has threatened to shift the factory out of West Bengal, which would mean a loss of a Rs.15 billion (around $400 million) investment.

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