Manna backtracks on Singur remark

Manna backtracks

Minister of State (MoS) for Agriculture Becharam Manna, who is in the eye of a storm for his remarks against Calcutta High Court judges for declaring the Singur land reclamation law unconstitutional, said today that his comments were "twisted" by the media.

Top Trinamool Congress leaders went into damage control mode today, with industry minister Partha Chatterjee saying the party had full faith in the judiciary and he would speak to Manna on the issue.

Manna, who spearheaded the Singur movement, told a rally there yesterday that "the CPM and Tatas got united and with the help of judges loyal to them have defeated the state government in the court". He even said that if the Singur verdict goes against the state in the Supreme Court, the Singur farmers would enact a new law to get back their land at any cost.

His remarks drew widespread criticism, with the lawyers' body of the CPM decided to file a contempt petition against him. The Congress, on the other hand, demanded Manna's arrest.

Manna said: "My speech was twisted by the media. I did not say anything derogatory about the judges. I said that I have full faith in the judiciary." When asked if any senior party leader called him seeking an explanation, Manna replied in the negative.

Asked about Manna, Chatterjee said: "We have full faith in the judiciary and will speak to him. I will not comment on what I have not seen with my own eyes. We want to see the farmers of Singur getting back their land quickly. But everything has to be done in accordance with the law. We respect the law."

CPM state secretary Biman Bose said: "The minister's comment establishes that ministers lack knowledge about the Constitution. I would request the state government to organise a training session so that the ministers acquire knowledge about the Constitution."

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