Return of Singur land welcomed, but CPI-M opposes ordinance

Kolkata, June 10 (IANS) Barring the CPI-M and its ally RSP, political parties in West Bengal Friday welcomed Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s decision to return 400 acres of land in Singur to unwilling farmers through an ordinance.

Banerjee Thursday promulgated an ordinance to acquire 400 acres of land at Singur to return it to the farmers from whom it was taken allegedly against their will by the previous Left Front government for the Tata Motors Nano small car project.

Abdul Mannan, a leader of the Congress which is an ally of Banerjee’s Trinamool Congress, told IANS: ‘I want that the land to be returned to the farmers but I won’t comment on the way it is being done.’

The Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) and Revolutionary Socialist Party (RSP) were, however, very critical that an ordinance had been issued when the house was in session.

‘We have no problem with her decision to return 400 acres of land. But how can she come out with an ordinance when the assembly is in session? This is unconstitutional. We will talk to law experts and decide our course of action,’ CPI-M state secretariat member Rabin Deb told IANS.

Another CPI-M leader and former assembly Speaker Hashim Abdul Halim said: ‘It is unconstitutional and illegal. They should have consulted legal experts before taking such a decision.

‘I have no clue how the governor signed it,’ said Halim, who had a record 29-year-long stint as assembly speaker.

RSP leader Manoj Bhattacharya said: ‘We are not opposed to her decision to return the land. But we have strong reservations about how she could have taken recourse to an ordinance when the house is in session. Moreover, we are against any kind of ordinance being passed on any issue.’

But other Left Front partners such as Forward Bloc and Communist Party of India (CPI) welcomed the decision.

‘It was her election promise. She has kept it. What more can I say,’ CPI leader Gurudas Dasgupta told IANS.

‘We welcome the decision to give back the land to the farmers. Whatever the process might be, we welcome this initiative,’ Forward Bloc’s Debabrata Biswas told IANS.

When in opposition, Banerjee’s Trinamool Congress saw its political graph climb again after it spearheaded protests against the land acquisition for the Nano project. Faced with the sustained and intense protests, the Tata Motors shifted the plant to Gujarat.

Returning 400 acres to the farmers was one of the major promises of the Trinamool. Hours after being sworn in as chief minister May 20, Banerjee got the decision passed in the first cabinet meeting of the new regime.