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Bangalore blight brightens up Bengal

Calcutta, July 29: When Bangalore takes a beating, it’s time for Bengal to beat its drum.

With Wipro chief Azim Premji hauling up Bangalore for “poor infrastructure” and threatening to make fresh investments in cities like Calcutta, Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee’s government is making a sales pitch in the country’s technology capital.

On August 16, information technology minister Manab Mukherjee, accompanied by IT secretary G.D. Gautama, will set off for Bangalore for a two-day roadshow. The duo will meet the heads of 15 top IT companies and showcase the state’s “intrinsic strengths”. The list includes Intel, SAP Labs, Mphasis, Texas Instruments and Max Healthscribe.

“We are closely tracking the developments in Bangalore and the recent statements made by Premji. We are even trying to get a recorded version of his statements,” said Mukherjee.

On Friday, Premji announced that Wipro’s future investments would be made outside Bangalore for “there are opportunities outside Karnataka where talent is available, infrastructure is better and wages are lower”.

Mukherjee said the IT department has requested the chief minister to make a trip to Bangalore. “Let me go there and do the groundwork, the chief minister will go later,” he said.

Premji’s words are music to the ears of Mukherjee and his team. Much to the liking of the Left government, the richest Indian talked about Calcutta, Pune, Hyderabad and Chennai in the same breath naming cities where Wipro plans to invest.

“But during this trip, we will not be meeting Premji. He is scheduled to be in Calcutta in September for the formal inauguration of Wipro’s operations in the city and we have plans to hold discussions with him then,” added Mukherjee.

Wipro has started working from a facility in the Salt Lake Electronics Complex and Premji — during his last meeting with the chief minister — indicated that he was keen to expand operations in Calcutta. He told Bhattacharjee that he was looking for a big plot of land in Rajarhat to set up a campus.

“Following the discussions, we got in touch with senior officials of Wipro and requested them to inform us about their exact demand. Once we get a response, we will initiate the process of land allotment without delay,” explained Mukherjee.

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