The indefinite agitation at the site of the Tata Nano plant in Singur, West Bengal, by Mamata Banerjee's Trinamool Congress entered its second day today.
The Trinamool Congress has been leading the agitation against West Bengal's leftist government on behalf of farmers whose land has been forcibly acquired by the state government to house the ancillary units that will cater to the Nano.
Banerjee, who says nearly 200,000 activists would converge in the coming days, has assured the state administration of a peaceful demonstration by her party.
Not taking any chances the state government deployed 3,000 policemen with water cannons on standby to protect the Tata factory and its wokers if required.
Adding muscle to the protest was the presence of Samajwadi Party's heavyweight leader Amar Singh, who arrived in Singur to address the farmers along with leaders of Trinamool's allies like the Socialist Unity Centre of India and the Somen Mitra-led Pragatisil Indira Congress and social activist Medha Patkar, who has been leading ther Narmada Bachao agitation for over a decade.
Booker Prize winning writer Arundhati Roy is also slated visiting Singur in support of the agitation.
In Kolkota, just an hour's drive from Singur, state chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee and commerce and industries minister Nirupam Sen are said to be drawing up acceptable strategies to end the impasse and retain the celebrated small car project from leaving West Bengal.
Andhra Pradesh today became the fourth state, after Maharashtra, Punjab and Orissa to offer itself as an alternative venue for the project with ample land and good infrastructure minus Mamata Banerjee. (See:States line up for Tata Nano project as Mamata plans siege at Singur)
The fiesty Banerjee is not the type to back off from Tata's warning to move out if the agitation continued. Banerjee responded saying, "We don't want anybody to move out of West Bengal, but at the same time we will not bow to any kind of pressure."
Banerjee's stand on returning the 400 acres of land back to the farmers is resolute. She has now come out with an alternate proposal to end the deadlock by offering around 500 acres of low-lying land opposite the present project site where the ancillary units can be relocated.
The proposed land, she claimed was lying with CPI(M)-backed promoters to build multi storey buildings. If the government agrees to her proposal then she said was willing to show the land and Trinamool-run panchayat bodies would be involved in the process of allocating the land to Tata Motors.
As usual she warned that her party-controlled panchayat would not allow construction of multi-storey buildings there if the land was not used for the ancillary units of the Tata Motors.
Chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattaacharjee is reported to have drawn up a lucrative financial compensation or alternate land or both for the displaced farmers in a bid to end the impasse. The latest compensation package, would better the entitlement that land losers are entitled to as per the Land Acquisition Act of 1894.
With this new compensation package, the government wants to hold discussions with all opposition parties and farmers in order to come to an amicable solution whereby the farmers are happy and Tatas, who have already invested Rs1,500 crore on the Nano plant, do not shift the project out of the state.
When Tata Motors 'Nano' was first unveiled at the Auto Expo in Geneva, becoming the envy of rival international auto manufacturers like Honda, GM, Toyota and Renault-Nissan, little did Ratan Tata expect his dream pet project to be embroiled in such controversy.
(See: Tata Motors launches the new Indica Vista)