Talks to end violent protests over a factory in eastern India designed to manufacture the world's cheapest car entered a second day Saturday, with both sides expressing optimism.
The Marxist government of West Bengal state said it was hopeful of reaching a deal in the talks that began Friday with farmers and opposition parties.
“We are hopeful of a breakthrough,” West Bengal industry minister Nirupam Sen said before entering the discussions.
The talks were chaired by state governor Gopalkrishna Gandhi, a grandson of Indian independence icon Mahatma Gandhi.
Sen's expression of optimism followed a statement late Friday by Partha Chatterjee, a leader of the Trinamool Congress party that has spearheaded the protests, that the two sides were “heading toward a solution.”
The protesters claim farmers were forcibly evicted by the state government to make way for the car plant and are demanding a return of land.
“The government is offering a package that will help all farmers whose land was acquired,” Sen said.
Tata Motors, India's largest vehicle maker which shot to international prominence when it bought British motoring icons Jaguar and Land Rover earlier this year, did not attend the talks.
Tata Group chairman Ratan Tata warned last month he would move the plant out of West Bengal if the demonstrations continued, even though Tata Motors has poured 350 million dollars into the project.
The plant in Singur is 90 percent complete, and Tata Motors has said it aims to launch the Nano in October.
Protests have been going on for two years against the plant. But demonstrations got uglier in the past few weeks, with protesters besieging the factory and threatening workers.
Tata Motors can produce the car at its other plants, but mass production could be set back by a year if it has to build a factory elsewhere, analysts said.
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