The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Peace or not, full steam on industry

Calcutta, Nov. 29: Chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee today indicated that he would not give up Bengal’s industrialisation to buy peace with the Opposition, going on the offensive after being defensive on Nandigram and other issues for months.

In a public speech that marked his first major response to recent attacks on his policies, the chief minister signalled that his government and the CPM would take a more assertive approach on development issues.

It was not clear whether the chief minister was aware of the apprehensions voiced by Infosys when he delivered the speech. The Infosys comments were aired around noon, and Bhattacharjee spoke in the afternoon.

At the start of the CPM’s four-day district conference in South 24-Parganas, Bhattacharjee said: “Thousands of youths look to us to create job opportunities by setting up industries in the state. We cannot bow to pressure from the unprincipled Opposition that resorts to violence to frustrate our industrialisation drive. We need work, work and more work for the sake of our youths.”

That the chief minister signalled the change of tone at a party rally had its own political message. He seemed to tell the cadres that there was no need to be defensive because there was nothing wrong with his, and the party’s, industrialisation policy.

Recent events, particularly the intensive protest by intellectuals about the CPM’s armed takeover of Nandigram, had put the party cadres, as much as Bhattacharjee, on the defensive.

“The Opposition here is opposed to development projects unlike other states. In Tamil Nadu and in Gujarat, the Opposition is collaborating with the ruling party so far as the state’s development agenda is concerned. But here, there is a difference. In Bengal, the Opposition is out to jeopardise the state’s development agenda by resorting to the politics of violence,” he said.

“But we will not allow this to happen. We will move ahead with our industrialisation project for the sake of the future of this state.”

The place from where the renewed defence of the industrialisation policy was launched was also significant. Beaten back in Nandigram, the industrialisation drive has zeroed in on South 24-Parganas as the next hub. It could not have been coincidental that Bhattacharjee linked the district to his larger development plan.

“We will have to build an expressway, a deep-sea port (at Kulpi) and an airport for which we need land,” Bhattacharjee said. “But the Opposition is obstructing this. But we will go ahead with such projects despite opposition, come what may.”

The Barasat-Raichak expressway and the deep-sea port are expected to create the logistics and infrastructure for a new industrial hub at Nayachar, near Haldia.


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