Krishnagar, May 20: Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee today sought to build a consensus on industrialisation across the political spectrum and asked the Opposition: “Why are you against the small-car project'”
“I was young when I became a minister 30 years ago. Today, my hair has turned grey and my health is failing. I cannot do everything alone if you don’t co-operate,” he told a gathering that included Congress, Trinamul Congress and BJP leaders.
“I have to create more job opportunities. Is it possible for me to do it alone'”
The appeals could be in vain. Trinamul’s Nadia general secretary Ujjal Biswas said he went to Rabindra Bhavan looking for someone. “I had gone there to see a cultural programme, but dropped in at the venue of the chief minister’s meeting to see if the person I was looking for was there.”
The chairman of the local Congress-run municipality, Uday Mishra, and district BJP president Pranab Chowdhury were among some 1,000 people at Rabindra Bhavan when the chief minister spoke.
Kalyani University vice-chancellor Aurobindo Das and Deepak Bagchi, the vice-chancellor of Bidhan Chandra Agricultural University, and teachers from various colleges were also there.
Leaders of all mainline political parties and academics had been invited to the meeting organised by the district CPM unit.
The Congress’ Mishra said he was impressed by the chief minister’s speech. “We’ll definitely co-operate with him on industrialisation.”
The BJP leader admitted that industries were essential.
“I want to take everybody into confidence also before building infrastructure — roads, airports and seaports,” said Bhattacharjee.
The CPM said such interfaces would be organised across the state. “After Nandigram, we’ve decided to rally intellectuals and leaders at the grassroots level to drive home the need for industry.”
If people from every sphere of life and various political ideologies can help Kerala usher reforms in economy, health and society, “why will there be an exception in Bengal'” the chief minister asked.
Addressing a rally at Nakashipara, about 40 km from Krishnagar, he expressed surprise at the flare-up in Singur. “A handful of people is creating trouble against the interests of the majority.”
“The small-car plant will employ 4,000 people and turn around the economy of the area and the lives of its people…. Explain to me why you are against the project.”
The chemical hub, too, is a necessity, he added. “We can’t let the opportunity slip away.”
There is room for talks, the chief minister said, probably hinting at the all-party meeting on Nandigram.