Mamata insists on Bengal's own Land Acquisition policy



Kolkata: Confident of coming to power in West Bengal, Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee on Saturday assured people to accord priority on setting up a land bank and formulating a separate land acquisition policy of the state till a national policy was framed replacing the existing Land Acquisition Act.

"We must set up a land bank and land acquisition policy of the state's own until a national policy is framed replacing the existing Land Acquisition Act," Banerjee said in an interview to a local TV channel.

Speaking against forceful acquisition of land, Banerjee said the Left Front government had failed to formulate its own land policy, unlike many other states.

"The existing Land Acquisition Act is draconian. We have to wait till a new legislation comes replacing the existing one," she said.

Besides land bank, Banerjee was also confident of setting up employment bank to create opportunities for the unemployed youth.

"For me agriculture is an inspiration and industry is a thrust with both dependent on each other," Banerjee said.

To a question about a large number of political prisoners in the state, Banerjee said she would review each and every case and take the help of Human Rights organisations, if required, to initiate right steps on this issue.

Asserting the state should progress in every sphere, Banerjee said that a 'knowledge mission' in Bengal is most essential for the development of the state, which have lost its growth momentum during LF regime.

Underscoring more power and prestige for the minorities, scheduled castes, scheduled tribes and refugees, Banerjee was confident of building a developed state with the participation of a cross section of people.

Though she nominated a sizable number of women as candidates for the upcoming Assembly poll in the state, Banerjee described herself as "neutral" and "not a feminist". "I am not a feminist, I am neutral", she said.

Setting aside the ruling party slogan for "improved Left Front", she referred to LF government's "moribund financial condition."

Once in power, her government would first identify how funds of over two lakh crore were misused and the state turned into a bankrupt one, the Trinamool chief said.

"We will then take our own decision to make a turnaround in state's economy," she said, adding "discipline and work culture has to be restored for a true environment for development".

Banerjee alleged that CPI(M) and BJP have entered into a secret deal in a bid to defeat her candidates.

"They (CPI(M) and BJP) have identified 18 constituencies including those in the border district of North 24 Paraganas in a bid to defeat the Trinamool," she said.

"As part of the understanding, BJP will campaign that they are the champions of Hindutva in a bid to woo the Hindus," she said.

Turning her guns on the Marxists, she said Karl Marx used to champion the cause of the have-nots. But the CPI(M) here have been torturing the have-nots.

She claimed the CPIM has been able to cling to power by resorting to 'scientific rigging' in previous assembly polls, but this time they would not succeed.

Banerjee said the fact that a majority of CPI(M) MLAs did not opt to contest this time was an expression of no-confidence to the party in power before the elections.

The TC chief said those who did not want change, would vote for the Left. "But no vote should be wasted."

On the rebel Congress leaders threatening to contest as Independents, she said, "They are the like cuckoos who appear in spring and contest as independents when elections come just to help CPI(M)."

Banerjee entered into a seat-sharing deal with Congress on her terms, leaving Congress 65 seats out of the total 294 to Congress. But the release of the list of Congress candidates by the party high command in Delhi yesterday sparked dissent in the state Congress.

Shankar Singh, Congress district president of Nadia, has threatened to put up candidates in all 17 seats in the district against TC candidates while Congress MP and Murshidabad district chief Adhir Chowdhury said he would not campaign for TC candidates.

PTI