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Competitors fuelling Singur controversy: Ratan Tata

Friday 29 December 2006

The Tata Group chairman asserts that he will not pull out of West Bengal

Says West Bengal under Buddhadeb’s leadership is investment friendly ; ``You put a gun to my head and pull the trigger or take it away, I won’t move my head’’

New Delhi : Tata Group chairman Ratan Tata on Wednesday blamed competitors for ``fuelling’’ the controversy over the proposed Rs. 1 lakh car project at Singur in West Bengal, but asserted that he would not pull out of the State.

``... Let me just say it is not just political, because I happen to know that some of our competitors are also fuelling some of this fire, they would be very happy if the project got delayed,’’ Mr. Tata said in an interview to NDTV.

Tata Motors’ car project is mired in controversy over the acquisition of agricultural land and allegations of forcible eviction of farmers. Trinamool Congress leader Mamata Banerjee is on a hunger strike for the 24th day.

Mr. Tata said: ``I think the West Bengal Government has been very steadfast in its support of the project and I think it would be wrong for us to say that we will pull out and go.’’

Asked whether he was apprehensive about the project, Mr. Tata said:

``No, I am not apprehensive that it would not happen and there I really want to say that we could have gone to two or three other States which offered very attractive terms.

``Why did we go to West Bengal? Because we believe in the leadership that the present Government has provided,’’ Mr. Tata said. Though the State had a Marxist Government, ``we felt that West Bengal under the leadership of Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee is very investment friendly.’’ He continued:

``If I believe that we were doing something wrong, then I will be the first one to pull out. If I believe that this is being manipulated and turned around to meet some specious cause, then I think, what I would do is dig my heels in.

``I am unfortunately a person who has often said, you put a gun to my head and pull the trigger or take the gun away, I won’t move my head.’’

``We regret what has happened and [I] ask myself, have we been caught in a political quagmire where political issues have tended to try and overcome even the issues they are supposed to espouse?’’ he said.

``Of course, I am concerned, I am a very sensitive person and I am concerned that all this controversy has been created over a project, that I think is very good for that part of the country.’’

Not against Tatas: Trinamool

In Kolkata, the Trinamool Congress refuted Mr. Tata’s charge that competitors may be "fuelling" the protests and said its agitation was against the West Bengal Government and not the business house.

"It is totally insulting to us. We have got nothing to do with the competitors of Tatas, our fight is against the State Government and not against the Tatas," senior party leader Sougata Roy said.

State Commerce and Industry Minister Nirupam Sen in an interview to a TV channel described as ``unfortunate’’ reports that Mr. Tata’s competitors were behind a controversy over the project. ``We congratulate Ratan Tata for his clear statement that Tata Motors will not pull out of the Singur project." - PTI

See online : The Hindu

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