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Mitra sure of Tata return
Ratan Tata at the Tata Medical Centre in Calcutta on Monday. Picture by Amit Datta

New Delhi, May 16: The Tatas will “undoubtedly come” to Bengal, Trinamul MLA Amit Mitra said on a day Ratan Tata was in Calcutta.

“(The) Tatas will undoubtedly come.... Mamata Banerjee did not drive them out,” Mitra, tipped to be Bengal’s next finance minister, said during an interview to news channel CNN-IBN.

Mitra said businessmen did not have sentimental issues and looked at returns on investments, adding the Tatas would come and invest once the industry’s confidence in Bengal was restored.

Tata Motors was forced to shift its Nano project out of Singur following the agitation against land acquisition spearheaded by the Trinamul chief.

Tata was in Calcutta today for the launch of the Tata Medical Centre, a 167-bed cancer hospital, in Rajarhat. Asked by The Telegraph whether he had spoken to Mamata, Tata said: “No.” Asked if he had talked to Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee, Tata said: “No.” The Tata group chairman was speaking at the airport this evening on his way back after the hospital’s opening.

Amit Mitra

Yesterday, sources had said Tata Sons director R.K. Krishna Kumar had written to the outgoing Left Front government and the Trinamul Congress, seeking co-operation from both.

Asked during the interview how the new government would handle land acquisition, Mitra said farmers should not be dealt with by “crude” state power, an allusion to alleged forcible acquisitions by the Left government. Mitra said he favoured the Haryana model where the industry bought land at market rates after negotiations with farmers, who were also given annuity.

Speaking about the state’s financial problems, Mitra said with 58,000 factories closed, there had been a flight of capital from Bengal, whose public debt was nearly Rs 2 lakh crore.

He hoped Mamata would be able to convince the UPA government at the Centre, of which she is a partner, to offer a financial package. He cited examples of Bihar, Assam and Punjab, which had similar financial problems but had since come out of them.

“I am hoping the Prime Minister sits across the table with Mamata with a paper which lays out a plan like other states have done.... She will be able to negotiate matters,” said Mitra, who is also the Ficci secretary-general. He is expected to resign from the business chamber soon.

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