Addressing a big rally here he said, ''The people of Nandigram will be given the first preference while offering employment in the neighbouring island of Nayachar where we are setting up a chemical hub.'' The Chief Minister was addressing the farmers after distributing 22 acres of ''patta'' (tilling rights) to about 3,500 small and marginal farmers of ten villages under Nandigram Block I. A huge police force, including RAF and CRPF, had been arranged in view of the Chief Minister's visit, even as the 24-hour bandh called by the Bhumi Uchhed Protirodh Committee(BUPC) ended here this morning.
Meanwhile, BUPC supporters flaunted black badges and masks before the Chief Minister. They were protesting against yesterday's clashes, in which three of their supporters received injuries.
The road, which was dug up yesterday by the BUPC supporters at Kenduamari village, was filled up by the local panchayat in presence of heavy police deployment just before the Mr Bhattacharjee's arrival here.
Referring to yesterday's clashes, Mr Bhattacharjee said, ''The recent disturbance in Nandigram is the outcome of misleading propaganda by the Opposition that the government will take over private land after the panchayat elections.
''I assure you that this is not true. We will not take over any land here. Rather, we are arranging for employment for the people of Nandigram in Nayachar's new industry,'' he said.
Flaying the Opposition for their tacit understanding with the Maoists, the Chief Minister said, ''They are interested only in destruction and not in building up a new West Bengal.
''You are well aware that the recently arrested Maoist leader has admitted this understanding. The Opposition must now choose between future development of the area and permanent terror in the land,'' he said.
He asked the farmers, ''If the state government is truly anti-farmer, do you think we will have come to distribute patta to you?'' Meanwhile, the situation in the area was tense with tight security being maintained throughout the two blocks of Nandigram, East Midnapore, SP S S Panda said and added, ''We are keeping strict vigil over the area.''