Mitra in the Marwari headgear in Siliguri on Friday. (Kundan Yolmo)
Siliguri, March 28: Trinamul ministers Amit Mitra and Gautam Deb and the party’s Rajya Sabha member Derek O’ Brian held an interactive session with businessmen here this evening, a move seen as an attempt to consolidate votes from the business community in the largest trade hub of north Bengal.
Around 500 businessmen attended the one-and-a-half-hour-long session organised under the banner of International Marwari Federation headed by former Trinamul MLA from Calcutta Dinesh Bajaj.
Apart from Marwaris, Biharis and Sikhs also turned up at the meeting.
Mitra appealed to the business community to work in consonance with the state and carry forward the “new vision of the new government”.
“We are not against the business community and do not consider them (its members) to be unscrupulous. They are the people who generate employment and play an important role in improving the state and the nation. Our government believes in employment and growth and not jobless growth. We are focused on the micro, small and medium sectors as these are labour intensive and can contribute to the progress of our state,” said Mitra, the minister for finance, industries and commerce.
Donning a “safa”, a traditional headgear of the Marwari community, he replied to questions thrown at him by his colleague Derek, who spoke as a representative of the community. “You have seen how the tourism industry has bloomed as the chief minister, with her vision and courage, has managed to restore peace and amity in the Darjeeling hills. Many of you supply goods to the hills and we hope that you want to see that the situation remains normal there and more and more tourists come to the region. For this congenial environment, please stand by us,” Mitra said.
“It is only our party in Bengal which had MLAs from the Marwari community,” he said, referring to Dinesh.
In his speech, Dinesh said: “Some people here are promising partition of Bengal only to become an MP. We have seen how the business was affected during the agitation in the hills but now things have largely improved.”
Mitra replied to several questions regarding stamp duty, commercial taxes, VAT, property registration, professional tax and land.
Observers said the event was used by Trinamul to woo the non-Bengali vote bank. “In 2009, the inclination of a considerable section of the business community towards the then BJP candidate Jaswant Singh was witnessed by the CPM that lost miserably. Trinamul is desperate to staunch the flow of these votes to the BJP,” said an observer.
On March 19, a similar get-together was organised in Calcutta by the federation. Chief minister Mamata Banerjee had attended the function.
Today, Mitra ended the speech by saying: “Main tharo, they mharo (I am yours, you be mine),” as the audience stood up to applaud.