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Mamata’s match-eve moves

Mamata Banerjee’s office turned into a hive of activity on the eve of her annual get-together with business leaders as the chief minister called over three of the city’s prominent industrialists and appeared to rush through homework at the eleventh hour.

Sanjiv Goenka, Harsh Neotia and M.K. Jalan were at Writers’ for up to two hours on Thursday afternoon.

There was no official word that Thursday’s talks were a prelude to Friday’s confabulations but sources said Mamata wanted to arm herself with facts and figures from the three members of Bengal Inc. before Friday’s show.

Friday’s meeting is officially a festive season get-together, an annual event that sees Mamata pitch Bengal as an investor-friendly destination. But this year the meet has assumed “greater significance” following the back-to-back incidents at Haldia and Dubrajpur that have portrayed the Bengal government in a poor light and cast a shadow on the state’s prospects to draw investments.

“The meetings were planned at the last minute because the chief minister wanted to gauge the mood of industry and get a feel of the ground realities,” a source said.

At Friday’s meeting, a closed-door event, there is every likelihood of the chief minister being confronted with uncomfortable questions. “Today’s meetings were her way of preparing for that,” the source added.

Jalan arrived around 2.30pm. He had a brief chat with industries minister Partha Chatterjee before entering the chief minister’s chamber. Minutes after Jalan left around 3.20pm, Neotia turned up. Goenka followed soon after.

Like Jalan, Neotia and Goenka had a meeting with Chatterjee before being ushered into the chief minister’s office. After the talk with Mamata, the duo met chief secretary Sanjay Mitra.

Sources said each had got a call from the chief minister’s office, which said Mamata wanted to meet him. Neither the chief minister nor the trio spoke about the talks.

A source said the chief minister asked them about their ongoing projects in Bengal and what was required at the government level to speed up work. “She wanted to know about individual projects each was pursuing in Bengal, whether they are facing any problem and what the government could do to solve them,” the source said.

Once the chief minister learnt about their problems, she put them through to the officials concerned. One source said one of the industrialists was promised immediate help.

“We came to invite the chief minister for the session of the World Presidents’ Organisation and Young Presidents’ Organisation that will be held in Calcutta next month,” Neotia said.