Mamata to meet captains of Bengal industry



Mamata BanerjeeThe meeting has created a buzz in political and industrial circles of the state as it is being construed as Banerjee's attempt to extend her appeal among the industrialists ahead of the state assembly polls, scheduled two years from now.

After beating the ruling Left Front in all recent elections in the state, Banerjee has set her eyes on the 2011 assembly polls as she sees a golden opportunity to oust the combine and fulfil her chief ministerial ambitions.

Now a part of the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government at the centre, the developmental activities initiated by Trinamool Congress ministers led by Banerjee are mostly aimed at consolidating their support base. They are also making inroads among sections of the populace who are yet to wholeheartedly endorse the party's programmes and philosophy.

Banerjee's stock among industrial captains plummeted after her party's strident opposition to the state government's land acquisition for the Tata Motors' Nano car project in Singur, 40 km from here, that led to the auto major shifting the plant to Gujarat.


Trinamool Congress led another movement that forced the government to cancel its plans for a chemical hub in East Midnapore district's Nandigram. The two incidents scared industrialists away from the state, and the Left Front now finds it difficult to acquire land even for road projects.


A year ago on Aug 19, 2008, Banerjee did meet chamber captains on the Singur issue, but she had then made clear her pro-farmer and anti-land acquisition stand.


However, since the Lok Sabha triumph, Banerjee has been trying to position her party as pro-development and responsible.


She sent her first message to the industrial lobby by drafting in Amit Mitra, secretary-general of Federation of Indian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (FICCI), to head a panel that will draw up business plans for the railways' public-private partnership (PPP) projects, including an industrial corridor alongside a planned freight corridor.


But the party has denied that the meeting has political undertones.


"She is meeting the chambers in her capacity as railways minister. The party is no way involved," Partho Chattopadhyay, leader of the opposition in the state assembly, said.


Asked about the chambers' expectations from the meet, FICCI eastern region president C.K. Dhanuka said: "We don't know about the agenda yet. It will be clear to us on that day only."


Confederation of Indian Industry eastern regional director Saugat Mukherji said: "We are working for the development of the industries and any such meeting helps us in furthering that process."

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