Didi apologises for 'mistakes of past'

Didi apologises for 'mistakes of past'

Bengal chief minister later clarifies she was talking about previous regime

Didi apologises for 'mistakes of past'

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee apologised for the mistakes of the past on Thursday, stunning everybody during her address at the closing ceremony of Biswa Banga Sammelan, the two-day global business summit in Kolkata.

She also urged industrialists to look to the future.

“Don’t look at the past. It’s gone. We are really sorry for that and I apologise for it. Whatever happened was not good. But let us think for today and work for tomorrow,” she said.

While the social media went into a tizzy with speculations that Banerjee was apologising for her stir against land acquisition at Singur in 2006, which led to the departure of the Tata Motors’ small car factory from Singur and a chemical hub at Nandigram, the chief minister later clarified that she was referring to the “financial mismanagement” during the Left Front's rule.

While the Tata plant was later relocated to Sanand in Gujarat and the chemical hub plans were shelved, Banerjee’s image took a hit before industrialists, who started believing she was resisting big capital.

But Banerjee later told reporters: “We have to carry forward the legacy of the previous government. It’s because of their financial indiscipline and no plan of action that we have had to suffer. Because of the huge financial burden, we are constrained in helping out the industry. So, I apologise to the industry for the deeds of the previous government.”

She pointed out that the Centre had received Rs 21,000 crore during her first year in office as debt repayment and Rs 25,000 crore last year. This year, the state will have to pay Rs 28,000 crore, and Banerjee’s government has repeatedly appealed for a moratorium on it.

“If they take away all my money because of the earlier government, how can I work for the people?” she asked.

Banerjee announced at the summit that the state has signed Memoranda of Understanding and Expressions of Interest worth more than Rs 2.4 lakh crore. “This is marvellous. I touch your feet. I salute you,” she told the participating industrialists from different parts of the world.

Urging them to invest in Bengal, she pointed out that while “political compulsions” stop her from allowing Special Economic Zones and similar industry-friendly benefits, she would try her best to get tax breaks from the Centre for willing investors.