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Singur: Bengal govt, Mamata to hold talks on September 5
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September 03, 2008 21:00 IST

In the first sign of forward movement to resolve the impasse on Singur issue, the first round of talks between West Bengal government and Trinamool Congress will be held  on September 5.

Governor Gopalkrishna Gandhi agreed to preside over the talks between a state government panel and a five-member delegation of TC, but he declined to be viewed as a third party mediator.

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The Governor's decision to chair the meeting came following requests from Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharya and Mamata to mediate personally -- to find a solution to the prolonged deadlock over the issue that threatened the existence of Tata Motors' [Get Quote] car plant -- that is set to roll out the world's cheapest car.

A Raj Bhavan press statement said the Governor's role would not be that of third party mediator but that of the meeting's chairperson.

The Governor sincerely hoped that the discussions would be marked by a spirit of accommodation and goodwill.

In the run up to the crucial talks, the Governor would have preliminary discussions with those concerned on Thursday.

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He envisaged his exercise ''as one that will result in a sense of shared, not one-sided, achievement,'' the statement said.

The statement said the Governor has accepted requests (of the chief minister and the Trinamool chief) with a view that the stalemate over Singur was "exacting social costs of a high magnitude apart from the investment costs and the implications on the polity".

Mamata said, "The Governor has spoken to us and also spoken to the state government. It seems that within today or tomorrow, a constructive blueprint will be formulated for a solution".

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Addressing a gathering at her dharna site in Singur, she said "the positive side of our movement is that the Governor has personally taken the initiative. Gandhi has spoken to us. He has spoken to Trinamool Congress leader Partha Chatterjee a number of times".

Asked if the Governor has put forward any proposal to solve the Singur issue, Mamata said, "We are waiting for a letter from him on this. Let's see".

To a question if TC was ready for a compromise, she shot back, "What compromise? We want return of 400 acres".
Her remarks came a day after the Tata announced suspension of work and was considering moving the Nano project out of Singur in West Bengal.

West Bengal government welcomed Mamata's remarks as a positive sign and expressed hope that the negotiations would yield positive results.

When informed that Mamata was hopeful of a solution in one or two days, Commerce and Industry Minister Nirupam Sen said, "This is the first time that she has uttered something which is a positive sign and we welcome it".

''If she is positive enough, then there is no reason why this problem cannot be resolved,'' Sen said.

Asked if there was any communication from the Tatas after the company announced suspension of work at Singur, Sen replied in the negative.

Former Chief Justice of Bombay High Court Chittatosh Mukherjee has agreed to advise the Governor during the course of discussions on legal aspects.

Asked how long the Tatas would wait, Sen said, "There is no deadline as such."

Asked if the issue of compensation to affected farmers would figure in the September 5 discussions, he said, "Let the talks begin."

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