Read more below

By BY OUR BUREAU in Calcutta
  • Published 31.10.00
Calcutta, Oct. 31 :    Calcutta, Oct. 31:  Presiding over his last Cabinet meeting, Jyoti Basu today promised a new beginning to an edifice that symbolises the rise and fall of Bengal. The state Cabinet has decided to hand over exclusive management rights of the ailing Great Eastern Hotel to a French company, Accor Asia Pacific group. Accor is expected to turn Great Eastern into a 200-room, five-star heritage hotel. "The privatisation of Great Eastern has been finalised at today's Cabinet meeting. It's a great achievement for us. Great Eastern will again become one of the best hotels in the city. No employee will be deprived of his legitimate claims," Basu told The Telegraph tonight. State tourism minister Manab Mukherjee said during the day that the voluntary retirement scheme as well as the final agreement will be worked out soon. "We will give the management rights to Accor for 30 years and in return receive 3, 3.5 and 4 per cent of their gross profit in the first, second and third decades respectively," Mukherjee said. He added that the state would see to it that the best VRS scheme in the country was worked out for the staff. Accor's move to take over the hotel in 1995 was cut short as all the unions, including the CPM-controlled Citu, objected to the VRS package. Accor will not be granted the right to mortgage the land on which the hotel is located. "They can however mortgage whatever movable property they develop," Mukherjee said. Emotions ran high as Left Front ministers attended the last Cabinet meeting chaired by Basu. Basu's colleagues in the cabinet unanimously adopted a resolution congratulating him for his tenure as chief minister. The meeting virtually turned out to be Basu's farewell meeting. Basu entered the Cabinet room at the state secretariat around 11.15 am. Basu said the success of the government did not lie in the performance of a person. "It is not my credit alone. It is the collective success of the Left Front. No individual or a single party can claim the credit for success,'' he said. On his successor Buddhadev Bhattacharya, Basu told his colleagues: "I have told him that you will have to run the government by taking assistance from all and you have to give importance to all your colleagues.'' Hundreds today gathered in the corridor of Writers' Buildings to have a glimpse of him. The first and second floor corridors were crowded with bureaucrats, officers, peons and visitors. Basu, known for his brisk stride, paused today and greeted them. The door to Basu's chamber, usually heavily guarded, was kept open and no one was prevented from entering his chamber. Basu did not turn away a single visitor. The confidential assistants of the ministers presented him a dhoti and panjabi, along with a bouquet of red roses. They also posed with Basu for a photograph.