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Buddha poser: find alternative to private capital

Calcutta, Jan. 10: Unrepentant about wooing private capital, Bengal chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee today asked Forward Bloc leaders if they knew of any alternative route to industrialisation.

“Tell me where is the alternative? What are my other options for industrialisation? Should I refuse private investors who are coming up with proposals for new industries and wait for socialism to come?” he asked at a bilateral meeting with the Left Front partner at the state CPM headquarters this morning.

Bhattacharjee told the meeting that Bengal had received investment proposals worth Rs 1.4 lakh crore over the past year and a half. “We can’t miss the bus.”

He asked the Bloc team to suggest alternatives in writing and send them to the CPM headquarters so that both sides could “exchange notes” before resuming the dialogue.

After the meeting, Bloc state secretary Ashok Ghosh said: “We are not opposed to industrialisation or private sector investment. But there is a fundamental difference between use of private capital for a government-controlled development plan and the acceptance of the capitalist model, where government surrenders to the whims of big capital. I hope the CPM understands it and changes the government’s policies accordingly.”

The chief minister had last week said there was no alternative to wooing private capital for Bengal’s industrial development.

State CPM secretary Biman Bose and party patriarch Jyoti Basu backed his contention. Basu went on to say “our party believes in socialism but it is still far away”, leading to suggestions within and outside the front that the CPM had bid farewell to socialism.

Party general secretary Prakash Karat reaffirmed in Delhi the CPM line of working within the “capitalist system” to undertake industrialisation as the allies stepped up their attack on Big Brother.

The chief minister touched raw nerves at the International Potato Expo yesterday by renewing his invitation to food-processing giants to develop the farm marketing infrastructure in the state.

Benoy Konar, known for his ability to match the acrimony of the allies and the Opposition, hurled a poser at the Bloc at today’s meeting. “You are high on rhetoric, low in substance. Tell us how we can run the government and deliver on development with the funds available?”

Restive over the course of industrialisation, the Bloc, RSP and, to a lesser extent, the CPI now run a mini-front within the front.

Karat had asked the allies why they chose to work within the capitalist system all these years.

Bose today said: “After your outbursts against us over Singur and Nandigram, I think we should discuss whether the front is needed any more. There is a front of three parties while we are alone.”

Ghosh accused the CPM of imposing its decisions on the partners. “Unless you discuss policy matters in the front and go by consensus, it would be difficult to maintain front unity,’’ he told Bose.

The CPM leader requested the Bloc veteran to reconsider the party’s decision to contest the panchayat polls on its own and said he would call a front meeting soon on the elections.

Despite the decision to exchange notes, the CPM’s mood was clear from the offensive against the RSP and the Bloc in party mouthpiece Ganashakti today. “Why have the RSP and Forward Bloc woken up from their slumber after 30 years?” party state secretariat member Shyamal Chakraborty asked in an article.

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