New Delhi: In an exclusive interview with CNN-IBN, Communist Party of India (Marxist), Politburo member Sitaram Yechury, has denied that West Bengal Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee had admitted that "a big blunder" occurred in Nandigram, regarding land acquisition for a Special Economic Zone.
Karan Thapar: The Chief Minister has accepted that what happened was a big blunder, a result of hasty decision. Can you accept that it's the damage of the standing of West Bengal government and the CPM?
Sitaram Yechury: Not at all. Not at all
Karan Thapar: Not at all?
Sitaram Yechury: No. Not at all. On the contrary...
Karan Thapar: A big blunder hasn't damaged your standing?
Sitaram Yechury: No. Number one, there's no blunder.
Karan Thapar: Oh. But, he says so...
Sitaram Yechury: No. He didn't.
Karan Thapar: He did. I'm quoting you.
Sitaram Yechury: Let me... please bear with me for a minute. The question of land acquisition is a right which the state government has. The Haldia Development Authority has no authority to issue any notification for land acquisition and the state government has not issued a notification and which is what we said and which is the correct fact.
Yechuri, a Rajya Sabha MP, told Karan Thapar on Devil’s Advocate that developments in Singur and Nandigram have not damaged the image of the West Bengal government and the CPM.
Yechury also said the CPM's image has not taken any beating because of the Nandigram and Singur issues.
Karan Thapar: Can you accept that you have damaged your party and your government's image, perhaps beyond repair?
Sitaram Yechury: No, we have brought this entire question of compensation to the national agenda, the compensation we are giving in Singur is the best and the most exemplary and now everybody will have to follow suit.
Yechuri rejected Trinamool Congress leader Mamta Banerjee’s allegations that farmers in Singur were forced to give their land for Tata Motors’ small car project.
When asked how the government’s position that 954 acres out of the required 997 have been voluntarily surrendered can stand up against Banerjee’s assertion that the owners of 464 acres have filed affidavits before court asserting that they have refused to sell their land and refused to accept compensation, Yechuri replied:
“What she has given is being inquired into by the state government and till now 350 acres of what she claims as part of the acquired land is outside of this land. The affidavits that have been filed do not fall under the purview of the acquired land. 350 acres is entirely from outside.”
Asked why the promise made on December 28 by state Industries Minister Nirupam Sen to publish “very soon” the full list of names of people who have voluntarily surrendered 954 acres of land, has still not been fulfilled, Yechuri first claimed that this had been done by the refutation of Mamta Banerjee’s claim and then, under further questioning, insisted that the list has been published on the West Bengal Government’s website.
Asked why Section 144 (which imposes prohibitory orders) was necessary in Singur if 954 acres has been surrendered voluntarily, he replied:
“Because of the politics that has been there in Bengal for a long time. There have been incidents in Keshpur and Garbeta some years ago when outsiders go there with arms, create violence and mayhem, and on that basis politics is sought to be played out. Now Section 144 was imposed when outsiders with arms went there (Singur) and attacked. Like in Nandigram as well. In the first instance of violence 19 people were injured and 16 are policemen. So who’s attacking whom? They are going there with arms in order to create violence and mayhem.”
Watch Devil’s Advocate on Sunday, January 14, at 8.30 p.m. Repeat telecasts at 10.30 a.m. and 4.30 p.m. on Monday.