The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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The gates of Jurassic Park are closed because the last of the dinosaurs is in rigor mortis. On the site of Jurassic Park, the foundation stone of a new and vibrant state can be laid by Mr Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee, the chief minister of West Bengal. This closure is remarkable since not very long ago in another incarnation Mr Bhattacharjee himself lived in that very park. But now he is its destroyer and the architect of its exact opposite. Like an efficient general stationed behind the frontline, Mr Bhattacharjee marshalled his forces and his ideas to victory without actually attending the four-day state conference of the Centre for Indian Trade Unions. The Citu has been Mr Bhattacharjee’s bugbear ever since he engaged himself in the project to woo capital back to West Bengal. Citu refused to reorient itself to the changed context and the changed priorities of the chief minister. It refused to lower its flag of protest, to reduce its anti-capital rhetoric and to slough off its irresponsibility. For many years, the Citu, protected by the Communist Party of India (Marxist), its parent body, made a virtue of calling strikes, initiating go-slows and a sundry other ways of disrupting production. This took West Bengal out of the investors’ map. Citu flourished while West Bengal languished.

Mr Bhattacharjee when he became chief minister decided to change this situation. He announced an agenda of reform in which making West Bengal investor-friendly was the top priority. His principal foe was the Citu which refused to recognize the chief minister’s reform agenda. Mr Bhattacharjee was blessed with one advantage. Unlike his predecessor, Mr Jyoti Basu, the present chief minister is not the vice-president of Citu. He could thus direct operation reform from the backroom. The success of this operation is evident from the removal of certain old warhorses of the Citu who lived in a bygone age and still breathed fire and brimstone. The exit of Mr Chittabrata Mazumdar, the general secretary of the state Citu, will be mourned by none save the enemies of West Bengal’s progress. The cognoscenti will also recognize that such a step could not have been taken without the support of the state secretariat. Mr Bhattacharjee has obviously carried important sections of the party leadership along with him and with the new direction that he is trying to give to West Bengal.

It seems that many of the necessary conditions for bringing capital to West Bengal have been fulfilled. The present government is openly in favour of investments and committed to clearing industrial projects. The Citu has been made to fall in line with this overall direction. Industrialists are looking at West Bengal with benign eyes. These changes were inconceivable even three years ago. West Bengal can now claim the faith of investors. Mr Bhattacharjee has to match deed to word. This will push the state towards fulfilling the sufficiency conditions. Investors will then be lured to invest. Only then will the people of West Bengal be able to say that they have been to hell and back.

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