Not me, but CPIM) drove Tata Motors out of Singur: Mamata

On a sunny afternoon just two days before Durga Puja in 2008, then Tata Group Chairman Ratan Tata had announced to pull out the ambitious Nano small car project from Singur in West Bengal’s Hooghly district, holding Trinamool Congress’ agitation against land acquisition for the project solely responsible for the decision.

Fourteen years after that development — often termed as the biggest blow to West Bengal’s image before national and international investors — Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said on Wednesday that it wasn’t her or the Trinamool, but then ruling CPI(M) which was responsible for driving away the Tata project from West Bengal.

“I did not drive out the Tatas. CPI(M) did. They forcefully acquired land for the project. I just gave back the land to the farmers at a later stage,” Banerjee said at a post-Durga Puja gathering in Siliguri in Darjeeling district.

In his speech while announcing the decision to pull out of Singur, Ratan Tata had also held Mamata Banerjee — then opposition leader in the state — responsible to a great extent for the decision to call off the project.

“I think some time back I had mentioned that if you put a gun to my head, you either pull the trigger or take the gun away because I will not move my head. I think Ms Banerjee has pulled the trigger,” he had said.

After the pull out from Singur, Gujarat’s Sanand became the new destination for the Nano factory.

Banerjee also said on Wednesday that although setting up new industries is her goal now, she is still against forceful land acquisition for any project.

“Several industrial projects have been launched since we came to power in 2011. But never has there been any forceful land acquisition,” she said.

Reacting to the Chief Minister’s remarks, CPI(M) central committee member Sujan Chakraborty said that it was Mamata Banerjee’s government which blasted a factory with dynamite whose 80 per cent construction work was complete.

“It was actually blasting the dreams of so many youth of the state. And she is now encouraging the youth to turn ‘jhalmuri’ into an industry in West Bengal,” he said.

In fact, it was Trinamool’s anti-land acquisition agitation in Singur that shifted the Left Front’s dedicated rural vote bank towards them, which ultimately culminated in Banerjee becoming the Chief Minister in 2011, ending the Left’s 34-year rule.

However, since then, fresh investments by the Tata Group in West Bengal have remained an illusion.

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