Grab land if Singur Supreme Court verdict adverse: Minister

Becharam Manna

Accuses HC judges of being loyal to CPM, Tatas; Cong demands his arrest

The newly appointed Minister of State for Agriculture, Becharam Manna, on Sunday exhorted the farmers of Singur to grab the land, which was acquired by the previous Left Front government to set up Tata Motors' car factory, in case the Supreme Court gives a verdict favourable to the car manufacturing company. He also accused the Calcutta High Court judges, who nullified the Trinamool government's legislation of returning 400 acres of land to the farmers, of being loyal to the CPM and Tatas.

"If the verdict (in the Supreme Court) does not go in favour of us, the people of Singur will take law in their own hands. Hope the problem will be settled by January," Manna told a rally at Singur organised by the Trinamool Congress, to mark Singur Divas, which has been observed by the party since 2006 when it protested the land acquisition that culminated in the exit of the Tata Motors from the area.

Later speaking to The Indian Express, Manna said: "What I said in Singur was that if the verdict does not go in favour of us, we will go to the field and make our own law. It will be the farmers who will make the law for themselves."

Without taking names, Manna accused the Calcutta High Court judges ó Justice Pinaki Chandra Ghose and Justice Mrinal Kanti Chaudhury ó who had ruled the Singur Land and Rehabilitation Act as "unconstitutional", of being loyal to the Tatas and the CPM. "You have been suffering because of a verdict from judges who were loyal to the CPM and the Tatas. Mamata Banerjee will correct it," he said.

Interestingly, Manna's controversial remarks come just days after he was heckled by agitating farmers of Singur who chanted anti-government slogans for doing nothing for them. Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, who has been facing revolt by Singur MLA and the face of the land movement, Rabindranath Bhattacharya, visited the area two days ago and promised the farmers that their land will be returned. She had cited legal obstacles in doing so.

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