The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Citu inflicts wound, CM plays doctor

Calcutta, Feb. 26: Two days after a team of US bankers returned home from Mumbai, calling off their trip to Calcutta and their outsourcing deal with fledgling information technology company Fi-Tek because of Tuesday’s strike, the Bengal government launched a salvage exercise.

Chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee met Subir Chatterjee and Barry Mermelstein, partners in Fi-Tek — a company half-owned by the Purnendu Chatterjee group — and promised to “walk the extra mile” to have the Chicago-based bank reconsider Calcutta as a destination for the proposed outsourcing of its accounting job.

“To get them (the bank) back would be a major coup, but we are hopeful that they would rethink. What we are taking back with us is the assurance of the Bengal chief minister that his government would help us in every possible way to get them back,” Chatterjee said.

Bhattacharjee and IT minister Manab Mukherjee are known to have told the Fi-Tek officials that too much should not be read into the strike, which was sponsored by the ruling CPM’s labour arm — the Citu — and the disruption it caused.

The argument apparently was that it was an aberration that could happen anywhere in the world, though it was unfortunate the strike took place on the day the American bankers were supposed to visit Calcutta.

Addressing the media after the 25-minute meeting in his Assembly chamber, Bhattacharjee said: “The newspaper reports were disturbing and I asked Manab to check what went wrong. They (the Fi-Tek officials) had a meeting with us today and have assured us that they are going to try to salvage the deal.”

The chief minister’s gesture did have an effect on Chatterjee, who had mourned the loss of “several hundred jobs” on the day of the strike.

Chatterjee said: “I am convinced he is serious and will help us in every possible way. He asked us to help promote the state in the US, which we have been doing for the last six years and will certainly continue to do.”

Fi-Tek has booked 16,000 sq. ft at Bengal Intelligent Park and is looking to recruit 50-100 professionals over the next three to four months.

“But the deal with the bank would have been much bigger and created jobs for many, many more,” said Chatterjee, who takes the flight back to the US tomorrow morning.

Besides the assurance, he carries with him an Advantage Bengal compact disc, which showcases the state without the strike-risk factor.

He has a formidable task ahead because the team of bankers would have already spread the word around about the cancelled trip to Stricken Bengal.

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