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Somnath to Delhi with stinger statistic

Calcutta, July 18: The ruling communists’ confrontation with Atal Bihari Vajpayee appeared set to intensify with the CPM deciding to carry the fight to the Prime Minister’s lair in the days ahead.

The party leadership today approved the idea of sending a note to Delhi countering Vajpayee’s critique of the state of affairs in Bengal. The Prime Minister had taken a swipe at the plunging fortunes of the state at a programme to mark the 150th anniversary of the Bengal Chamber of Commerce on Wednesday.

Veteran parliamentarian and chairman of the West Bengal Industrial Development Corporation Somnath Chatterjee is flying to the capital tomorrow carrying the draft note prepared on the basis of his interactions with various government departments today and facts and figures with his own corporation.

Chatterjee is expected to consult his party’s national leadership on the note in Delhi.

“I will write a letter to the Prime Minister after reaching Delhi tomorrow. What we want to do is to put Bengal in the correct perspective by adding some more information to what has already been said by the chief minister,” Chatterjee told The Telegraph.

He said the letter would point out the positive aspects of the state’s infrastructure, with particular reference to roads, power and water supply. “I will also highlight the presence of so many good schools, colleges and star hotels in Calcutta,” said Chatterjee.

Desperate to show Bengal in a light congenial to industry and development, Chatterjee’s lieutenants at the corporation delved into reports by various organisations, including those belonging to the Centre, and picked out facts and figures.

“The Centre for Monitoring of Indian Industries, a central government body, had ranked Bengal fourth last year. We are also higher than the national average in terms of per capita income and GDP,” said Chatterjee.

Sources in the corporation said reliable supply of power and water, compared to other metros, was discussed for incorporation in the letter to the Prime Minister. “Roads in the state are definitely much better despite the sinking alluvial soil,” said an official.

Chatterjee said he planned to begin his letter giving Vajpayee “some information, which your officers did not have”.

He pointed out that the programme Vajpayee attended was “unproductive” because he did not leave a message for the chamber of commerce, which has a major presence in the east. “For a Prime Minister, it is unprecedented. There is no mention whatsoever in his speech what the Centre was thinking about helping the Bengal chamber,” Chatterjee added.

The CPM’s counter campaign against Vajpayee’s observations on the state appears to be shaped by former chief minister Jyoti Basu who during his 26-year tenure had locked horns with several Prime Ministers.

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