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'Bengal is in dire need of industrial development'

January 06, 2014 11:55 IST

'Bengal is in dire need of industrial development'

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Probal Basak in Kolkata

Partha Chatterjee, former West Bengal industry minister, says it is a gross misconception that the government’s policy is anti-industry.

Speaking to Business Standard, Chatterjee said that things were changing in favour of West Bengal and that his successor, Amit Mitra, will perform well.

Edited excerpts:

Are you disappointed that you lost the industry portfolio?

The question of being disappointed does not arise. It is the prerogative of the chief minister to decide on the portfolios of her ministers.

She has done what she thought is right.

She is the best judge. I am first a political person and a party worker.

I never aspired to become a minister or so.

I joined the party to serve it, and that is my job.

I will continue to serve. I shall do what I am asked to do by the leadership.

As long as I am serving the party why should I be disappointed?

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Image: This file photo shows former West Bengal Governor Gopal Krishna Gandhi (2nd right) addressing a press conference as state's former Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharya (right), Trinamool Congress party chief and Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee (left) and Partha Chatterjee, former West Bengal Industry Minister, watch in Kolkata on September 7, 2008.
Photographs: Parth Sanyal/Reuters

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'Bengal is in dire need of industrial development'

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Apparently, performance has been the yardstick for this Cabinet reshuffle. How do you rate your performance as the industries minister?

It is up to the people finally to judge my performance.

Everyone knows the situation when I took over. Two hundred and twenty seven investment proposals have been made.

I know people will ask about big-ticket investments.

But that order of investment takes time to come.

I have done my best to clear pending proposals.

Fresh investments have come from Matrix, Essar, Hindustan Glass and many others.

If you talk about project implementation there is a study published in a magazine that says West Bengal has improved its rank from 17th to the 5th position in terms of project implementation.

I am sure all this will vouch for my achievements.

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Image: A worker cleans a Bajaj motorcycle at a Bajaj showroom in Kolkata.
Photographs: Rupak De Chowdhuri/Reuters

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'Bengal is in dire need of industrial development'

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Is there anything you think you might have failed to deliver as the industries minister?

Industry has a lot of expectations.

They have a lot of expectations about the availability of land, better infrastructure, disbursement of various kind of sops, incentives. . . But we have a lot of challenges as well. You cannot give away everything.

In fact, not everything is in my hands. For example, take the case of the environmental ban on the industrial belt of Haldia.

There have been many cases of environmental issues coming in the way of industrial development.

I, personally, have tried my best and have written to the Centre and other agencies concerned in an effort to address such issues.

When you say everything was not in your hands, do you think some of your government’s policies had come in the way of wooing the industry?

I am fully in favour of all our policies.

I think it is a gross misconception that the government’s policy is anti-industry.

Land has been held up as a big issue.

But if there is any specific proposal, the state government is always cooperative.

The intent of the government is to help the industry.

We are well aware of the need for investment.

Things are taking a positive turn. Yes, there are always challenges.

I have tried to work within the policy framework to win the confidence of investors.

People will judge my performance.

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Image: A labourer works at the construction site of a residential complex in Kolkata.
Photographs: Rupak De Chowdhuri/Reuters
Tags: Haldia

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'Bengal is in dire need of industrial development'

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You have quit as HPL chairman. Are you going to quit as West Bengal Industrial Development Corporation chief as well?

Yes. I am quitting from all the posts that were held by me, because I was the state industries minister.

There is news that it was the no-show from some of the players in Haldia Petrochemicals Limited's bidding that had particularly disappointed Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, and worked as a trigger for this Cabinet reshuffle. What do you have to say about that?

I cannot do anything if someone is trying to plant these kind of stories.

I do not know who and why a section of media is saying this.

I found no basis to this.

I can only say whatever was done, whether it was regarding the HPL bidding or something else, it was according to the procedures and the chief minister was apprised of everything.

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Image: Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron (left) shakes hands with West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee at the British Deputy High Commission in Kolkata.
Photographs: Dibyangshu Sarkar/Reuters

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'Bengal is in dire need of industrial development'

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Were you aware that you were going to be removed. Did Mamata Banerjee tell you she announced it?

This is not something I can disclose. This is an internal matter of the party and government.

You have been the unofficial number two in the state government. Do you think that has changed now? Will this have any impact on your personal equation with Mamata Banerjee?

I am a political figure first.

My loyalty to the party and leadership cannot be questioned at any point in time.

For me, the party always comes first.

I have been with Mamata Banerjee for decades now.

I am very honoured at being given a chance to be able to serve the party in various important capacities, which is most important to me.

I am the general secretary of the Trinamool Congress.

I am still the deputy leader in the state Assembly.

I do not know whether this change in portfolio changes anything.

I am not concerned whether I am number two or five. I am a loyal party worker first.

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Image: A yellow ambassador taxi drives past the HSBC bank building in Kolkata.
Photographs: Rupak De Chowdhuri/Reuters

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'Bengal is in dire need of industrial development'

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What will be your message to your successor Amit Mitra?

We all have high expectations from him.

He is the state finance minister as well.

I am sure this will help him to formulate policies and deliver. He is a well-known face in the industry circle. We are expecting he will deliver what the industry wants.

He, too, faces many of the challenges I did.

But I am sure he will be in a better position, and will perform better.

We are with him.

If I can still support him in any way I shall do my best to do my bit.

Industrial development is something the state is in dire need of.

I strongly believe things are changing in favour of West Bengal and Amit Mitra will take that forward.


Image: A boy plays with a tyre in front of electric pylons installed at a power house in Kolkata.
Photographs: Rupak De Chowdhuri/Reuters

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