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Hardline hurdle before CM in industry drive

Calcutta, Aug. 26: He wants to move ahead. His party appears keen to walk back.

After successfully showcasing Bengal in Mumbai, Hyderabad and other business powerhouses over the past few months, chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee is increasingly learning that the more he tries to put the state on the front bench, the more the CPM resists.

A large section of the party backs Bhattacharjee’s programme for industrialisation but the hardliners are trying to put hurdles in the way through the Citu, the party’s formidable labour arm.

“Bhattacharjee’s industrialisation bid, which he elaborately presented at an industrialists’ meet in Mumbai last week, is in tune with our party’s stand,” said CPM state secretary Anil Biswas.

“He is taking the initiative to translate into reality our stand, which is well documented,” added Biswas, skirting the question whether the hardliners were trying to stall Bhattacharjee.

Many CPM insiders harbour the notion that the hardliners have a ready tool in the Citu, which is feeling threatened — in some cases marginalised — following Bhattacharjee’s bid at industrialisation. Though an affiliate, the union is acting in several districts as an independent entity in defying the party.

Citu state secretary Shyamal Chakraborty declined comment on Bhattacharjee’s observations in Mumbai about Citu’s militancy. But several senior Citu leaders said the chief minister’s remarks would not have any impact on their course of action.

“Many people consider trade unions an extension of their parent political parties. But the unions have their own separate entities and are not controlled by any party. No one can prevent us from holding movements in favour of the working people,” a prominent Citu functionary said.

Citu leaders said they were not surprised by what Bhattacharjee said in Mumbai.

“The new industrial policy of our state was drafted during Jyoti Basu’s tenure as chief minister. Jyotibabu had at that time discouraged militant trade unionism, gheraos and bandhs. He also wanted the unions to work towards development of industrial units and ensure increased production and profit. Our party also endorsed the new policy. So, this kind of talk from a chief minister is not new,” said a Citu leader.

Bhattacharjee’s prescription for a more industrialised Bengal had evoked mixed reactions from the Left Front partners. While the Forward Bloc reserved comment, the CPI said it will continue to resist foreign investors if “they violate labour laws”.

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