Industry is back but in the boxing ring
Mamata joins issue with Buddha
|OUR SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT|
Calcutta, Jan. 3: For the first time since last year’s Assembly elections, industry has returned as the focus of a verbal duel between Mamata Banerjee and Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee.
A day after Bhattacharjee asked Mamata what her government had achieved in industry other than claiming credit for projects initiated by the Left, the chief minister retaliated: “Some CPM leaders are saying that the industrial projects were done during their time. If that is true, why did the Jindal file come to us? No industry has come up at Jellingham or Sunderbans. I had to come and tell the truth since lies are being spread,” Mamata said at Writers’ today:
Trinamul sources said that state commerce and industries minister Partha Chatterjee had been asked to give the rebuttal. But Mamata later decided to do it herself.
Accusing the Left Front government of shoddy work, the chief minister said, “A technical problem had cropped up in the Jindal project. We had to correct it. They (the previous government) gave the site because of the coal block. There is lot of madhu in the coal block. Financial implications were not cleared.”
Trinamul sources said that by saying this, Mamata may have tried to indicate the possibility that the Jindals were initially attracted to Bengal because of the coal blocks, which have become a scarce natural resource. The Jindals had been given three coal blocks in Bengal by the previous government.
Partha Chatterjee also hit back at Bhattacharjee. “Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee said the Jindal and Matix projects came up during his tenure. If that is the case, why has no work started so far?” asked Chatterjee.
He said 84 investment proposals worth Rs 65,409 crore had come during the last six months. But he declined to give details, saying that the names of individual projects would be disclosed during the state budget.
At the 72-minute news conference, Mamata accused ally Congress of colluding with the CPM and hitting the streets to protest the Indira Bhavan issue and the government’s failure to ensure that paddy growers get the minimum support price.
“The Congress and CPM have joined hands in Bengal. Jyoti Basu stayed at Indira Bhavan for 35 years. CPM had turned it into Jyoti Basu Bhavan, running a party office there. The Congress leaders remained silent then. Now, Congress workers are blocking roads and rail. Every day they are saying something against me. I don’t abuse Sonia Gandhi or Manmohan Singh. Nazrul Bhavan will happen there. Don’t teach us.”
Mamata said she respected Indira Gandhi and had installed her statue near Birla Planetarium.
“Nazrul is very dear to us. Like we have done for Rabindranath Tagore, we are committed to honour Nazrul. A research academy and a centre for Indo-Bangla friendship will come up there. (The name) Indira Bhavan will remain,” she said.
Stepping up the ante against the Congress, Mamata said they were hand in glove with Maoists in attacking Trinamul workers across the state.
“A section of CPM and Congress are crying terror. They are involved in rapes and killings. Our party workers are being killed in villages by CPM and Congress… in Jaipur (Bankura), Malda, North Dinajpur. Our party workers are attacked in Garbeta and Salboni. My party workers have remained silent. Harmads, don’t play with fire. If they are seen carrying arms, police will take action,” she warned.
Mamata said the CPM was politicising the paddy price issue. “CPM and another party (the Congress) have hit the streets on the paddy price issue. CPM knows it very well this (the minimum support price) is decided by Centre. The state has nothing to do with this. Fertilizer prices were decontrolled by Centre in 2010 and CPM is now politicising the issue.”
The chief minister clarified that her differences with the Congress in Delhi were issue-based. “Our criticism of the Centre is on issues. On FDI in retail and land bill, we have expressed our reservations,” she said.