The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Anil bares doublespeak

Calcutta, Aug. 23: An RSP leader today threatened to stall the entry of the Salim Group in the state but Anil Biswas reminded Left Front partners that the government's industrial policy was in keeping with the 2001 election manifesto to which they had all agreed.

Armed with a copy of the manifesto, the state CPM secretary said: 'I want to make it clear that the government's efforts are in no way deviation from the Left Front's poll manifesto of 2001'. Today, we are translating into action promises made to the people then.'

Before the last Assembly elections, the government had expressed its commitment to welcome public-private participation for Bengal's industrial and infrastructural develop-ment. 'There is no problem if private entrepreneurs, even multinationals, invest in the state's development ' housing projects, flyovers or food processing. We cannot differentiate between them,' the CPM politburo member told a news conference at the party's Alimuddin Street headquarters.

Front partners and a section of the CPM had recently raised voices against the Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee government's aggressive support for industry and objected to its bid to amend the land-ceiling law to allow conversion of agricultural land into industrial.

Former irrigation minister and RSP state secretary Debabrata Bandopadhyay today threatened to oppose the entry of multinationals, particularly the Salim Group, which has sought 5,100 acres in South 24-Parganas for a special economic zone and whose top officials the chief minister will meet in Jakarta.

'We shall not allow multinationals to invest here, come what may,' the RSP leader said, demanding that the Indonesia-based group's proposed project be scrapped.

'We will not allow the government to take away vast tracts of agricultural land from poor farmers and give them to the Salim Group for setting up industries. This was not discussed at the Left Front meeting,' Bandopadhyay said, warning that any move to convert such land into industrial plots would harm front unity.

However, Biswas pointed out that Bandopadhyay was one of the signatories to the manifesto that mentioned the setting up of the leather complex in Calcutta, development projects in north Bengal and improvement of tourism infrastructure in the Sunderbans with private participation.

'Villagers need not be confined to agriculture throughout their lives. Things are changing and our government will encourage farmers to graduate from agriculture to industry,' Biswas said, echoing the chief minister. Before taking the plane to Singapore, Bhattacharjee had said that farmers, if compensated and rehabilitated, should give up their land for the sake of industry.

But the RSP feels that industrialisation at the cost of marginal farmers is against Left principles. 'Whether mono-crop or multi-crop, land cannot be taken away from them,' Bandopadhyay said.

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