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Question mark over Mamata’s democracy, investment promises


Kolkata: The Mamata Banerjee-led West Bengal government is facing flak for failing in its election promises of restoring democratic and promoting an investment-friendly climate in the state.

The government recently denied former chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee permission to hold a party programme, drawing widespread criticism.

Now, an industry body says it is apprehensive about the state’s investment climate.

“Investment proposals in Bengal over the last three years have dropped to Rs.5.84 lakh crore from Rs.9 lakh crore. Industrialists are apprehensive that what has happened to (Tata Motors) Nano car project should not happen to them,” said Assocham secretary general D.S. Rawat.

During its 16-month tenure, the Trinamool Congress-led government has repeatedly claimed that big industrialists with investment proposals had queued up at state secretariat Writers’ Buildings.

However, industrialists have become apprehensive about West Bengal’s industrial policy due to the government’s stand against special economic zones and its policy of playing no role in acquiring land for private companies.

Rawat said the industrialists’ apprehensions stemmed from the way Trinamool Congress’ agitation pushed out the Nano project from West Bengal to Gujarat in 2008.

But the government does not agree with Assocham.

“If they (industrialists) have anything to say, they can speak to us. I will request them to come to Bengal after a year and comment on the state of the industry,” Sports Minister Madan Mitra said.

The government was also roundly criticised after it denied permission to former chief minister and CPI-M politburo member Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee to hold a closed-door party meeting in Hooghly, citing the law and order situation.

The incident brought back memories of a pro-Trinamool theatre activist being stopped by the Left Front regime from staging the Bengali adaptation of George Orwell’s Animal Farm in the same district.

But despite the criticism, the government drew praise for reining in errant auto-rickshaw drivers of Kolkata after a child was injured due to reckless driving.