Mamata at the government programme in Nadia on Friday. Picture by Bishwarup Dutta
Shantipur, Aug. 8: Mamata Banerjee today let go of an opportunity to join the high-decibel debate between Ratan Tata and Amit Mitra on the status of industry in Bengal and made a benign statement that left scope for several interpretations.
“Anek industry hochchhe. Keu keu dekhte pay na (Many industries are coming up. Some people can’t see),” the chief minister said at a government programme at Shantipur Municipal Stadium in Nadia.
“Media-r ek angsho sudhu apoprochar kore (A section of the media only engages in slander),” Mamata added, prompting many to wonder whether her comments were directed at the media or Tata.
This was the chief minister’s only reference to industry during her 40-minute speech, the rest of which was spent highlighting the government’s achievements in the social sector. Mamata also iterated her government’s stand against bandhs and blockades.
Sources said Mamata could be buying time and gathering information before hitting out at Tata.
Finance and industries minister Mitra, who had yesterday said Tata had lost his mind (motibhrom hoyechhe hoyto), made no public reference to Tata or industry today. The minister spent the day holding meetings with senior officials at Nabanna and the industries department’s office at Camac Street.
Mitra’s cabinet colleague Partha Chatterjee, however, kept the issue alive today, saying “industrial zones” were scattered across “specific zones” in the state.
“Industrial zones are scattered across specific zones in the state. He (Tata) could have enquired about those zones,” Chatterjee said.
The sources said Trinamul leaders could be interpreting Tata’s comments that he did not see “much sign of industrial development” during a drive down Rajarhat as a reference to the manufacturing industry.
Rajarhat, however, had been planned as an IT hub. Although several IT companies have offices in Rajarhat, most of them are located in SEZs that either came up or started during Left rule.
A section of Trinamul leaders believes that the silence of Mamata and Mitra on the industry debate could be a sign of the government not willing to prolong the controversy before the chief minister’s Singapore trip later this month to court investment.
Referring to her government’s achievements in the social sector, Mamata said at today’s programme: “The population of Nadia is 51.68 lakh. Around 24.53 lakh of them have received government services. In Haringhata and Kalyani, industrial clusters are coming up. Tehatta, Kaliagunj, Chapra, Nakashipara — the government has delivered everywhere. Not a single place has been left out.”
Government sources said the “services” the chief minister referred to were basics such as health and education, and schemes like Shikshashree, Yuvashree and Kanyashree.
Earlier in the day, Mamata held an administrative meeting in Krishnagar, where officials from Nadia and Murshidabad were present. At the Shantipur programme, she laid the foundation stone of and inaugurated 276 projects worth around Rs 1,700 crore.
“We do not believe in just laying foundations. We also complete projects. This is a technique we have evolved based on our administrative calendar. I have to hold administrative meetings in three more districts, which I will do next week. After that, I will focus on other work,” the chief minister said.