I would prefer death to forcible land acquisition: Mamata

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Sticking to her stand of not acquiring land forcibly, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Thursday said she would prefer death than agree to it.

"I am against acquisition of land forcibly. We will not acquire land by pointing guns at farmers. I will prefer death than acquire land forcibly from farmers," Banerjee said here in North Dinajpur district on the second day of her tour of five districts.

"I went on a 26-day fast and was about to die, but did not compromise," she said referring to her 26-day hunger-strike in December 2006 to demand return of 400 acre to farmers who unwillingly parted with their land for the Tata Motors small car project at Singur.

The immediate provocation of Banerjee's comment appeared to be targetted at Congress MP Deepa Dasmunshi who had earlier criticised her government for non-cooperation in acquiring land for an AIIMS-like hospital at Raiganj in North Dinajpur.

Without naming Dasmunshi who is MP from Raiganj, Banerjee said "I see that some here are engaged in politicking over the hospital at Raiganj.

"I am telling those who are criticising me that we will not acquire land forcibly. 100 acre of land will be required. Let them those are politicking arrange the land. I have no objection," she said.

The chief minister also announced the setting up of two multi-specialty hospitals at Raiganj and Islampur.

Dasmunshi, on her part accused the Chief Minister of avoiding the responsibility to set up the hospital which was announced by the union cabinet in 2009.

Rejecting the charge of politicking over the issue, Dasmunshi said "The Chief Minister is saying that land will not be acquired by her government. If that is the case, then the hospital will not come up. The Chief Minister is avoiding her responsibility.''

"We will fight to the last to see that this hospital comes up here," said Dasmunshi who does not see eye to eye with the CM and who fielded Congress rebels against Trinamool Congress nominees in three constituencies in North Dinajpur in the last assembly elections.

Earlier, speaking about the achievements of her government, Banerjee said that it has provided over six lakh jobs in the past one year and three months.

"More jobs will be created in the coming years," CM said. She added that her government has also provided ten lakh kishan credit cards.

Stating that making a turnaround in the state was a challenge similar to ousting the Left Front government, Banerjee said, "Earlier I used to work 18 hours a day. Now I am working 20 hours. It is my challenge to turnaround Bengal in terms of development."

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