At the Bengal Leads-2012, the third investors' event hosted by Mamata Banerjee since she became Chief Minister, Banerjee asked the industry that it start investing in West Bengal.
"May I ask you what the problem is? Will you just come, listen and go back?" Banerjee said in her inimitable style at the event.
As part of the sops that she put on offer to the industry, Banerjee said in a thumping voice that there would be no bandhs in the state. The announcement came on a day when the city was choked due to two rallies, one led by the ruling Trinamool Congress.
The event, which was slated to project the state as an industry leader, lacked the lustre that has adorned other investors' meets across the country.
Banerjee enumerated the perks that Bengal now has on offer. "There is a single window clearance in place. From a 99-page pro forma clearance, we now have a 7-page form. From a 317-day clearance system, any serious project proposal will now be cleared in 15 days," she said.
The chief minister rued that she was facing a shortage of administrative personnel; that she had been handed a state with dire finances; and that land (acquisition) was indeed a problem. "But (land) ceiling can be dealt with if you have a serious proposal. We have received seven proposals and we cleared every single one of them," Banerjee told a crowd in rapt attention.
In an uncanny resemblance to the days of the classroom roll-call,
"Will there be power additions in Haldia? What is ITC planning to do? Mr Jindal, I know there were some problems with land at Salboni, but we have cleared everything. When will you start construction?" she hurled questions at Sanjiv Goenka, Y C Deveshwar and Sajjan Jindal, respectively.
Goenka is the chairman of the Rs 9,000-crore (Rs 90-billion) RP-Sanjiv Goenka Group; Deveshwar is the chairman of the fast moving consumer goods behemoth ITC, and Sajjan Jindal is the managing director of JSW Steel, the country's largest steel producer.
Deveshwar told media persons later: "Industry is not built in the air. We are now setting up our equipment in other people's land. Just as there is competition between businesses, there is also competition between states." Jindal said that the work on the Salboni plant was in progress.
In a bid to assuage the resentment that had been brewing in the Marwari community over the state government's handling of the AMRI fire episode, Banerjee said, "A murderer is a murderer. Even if I murder, they will arrest me. Crime is crime. It is the law of the land, you don't have to worry."
In the past seven months not a single big-ticket proposal has come the state's way.
Problems have held up projects in the pipeline, including JSW Steel's Salboni project.
Around 130 stalls have been put up at the Milan Mela Grounds that is hosting Bengal Leads.