Tata project threatened by Mamata-Amar alliance

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Kolkata, Aug.2 : Tatas' small-car project at Singur in Hooghly district is facing a major threat from the newly established alliance between Trinamul Congress chairperson Mamata Banerjee and Samajwadi party general secretary Amar Singh.

Singh, who paid a surprise visit to Banerjee's residence here earlier this week, has vowed to support her crusade against the "unholy entente between the CPI(M) and the Tatas" and help her party in its efforts to recover some 400 acres of land forcibly acquired from the local farmers. esides, the two leaders have decided to join hands to thwart the Left Front government's bid to open retail trade to some Big Houses including the Reliance group.

There has been a perceptible deterioration in the progress of work at the Tatas' Nano factory since the Singh-Banerjee meeting. The factory workers and contractors' labour have been feeling insecure with the "Committee for Protection of Agricultural Land" expressing its determination to stall work if the forcibly acquired land is not returned to the unwilling farmers.

The TMC's success in the panchayat polls at Singur has no doubt prompted Banerjee to harden her stand vis-...-vis the Tatas and the CPI(M)-led government. However, Singh's decision to join her in the anti-Tata stir has lent a new dimension to Bengal's political scenario after the trust vote in the Lok Sabha.

According to informed sources, Singh's main motive behind extending active support to Banerjee's agitations on two crucial issues is to teach his party's former ally, the CPI(M), a lesson or two before the next Lok Sabha elections. Banerjee, however, is fully aware of Singh's purpose, but intends to exploit his party's support at the national level. She has urged the SP leader to prevail upon Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to take suitable steps to ensure return of the land to the concerned Singur farmers.

Singh's another purpose behind "renewal of friendly ties" with the TMC chairperson, sources said, is to bring her closer to the Congress now that the Marxists have withdrawn support to the UPA government. The SP general secretary, who was an aide of Bengal Congress leader Subrata Mukherjee before joining the party, is believed to have conveyed to her a specific message from the Congress high command for a workable political relationship aimed at defeating the CPI(M) in the coming polls.

Banerjee, however, is yet to respond to the Congress's current attempts to too her. The recent one-on-one meeting between union external affairs minister Pranab Mukherjee and chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee at the former's residence here has only strengthened her suspicion that the two parties are keeping their options open for a post-poll understanding.

As a senior TMC legislator put it, "The Congress must first re-establish its anti-CPI(M) credentials. Before seeking our support, the party should make a specific commitment not to ask for the left parties' help in government formation after the Lok Sabha polls." By Gautam Ghosh

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