West Bengal rues missed Nano, but politicians continue to bicker (Roundup)

March 24th, 2009 - 12:28 am ICT by IANS  

Kolkata, March 23 (IANS) The little Nano may have quit West Bengal around six months ago, but the glittering launch of the Rs.100,000 car in distant Mumbai Monday kicked off a political row here as people rued afresh the missed chance for the state.
With the first phase of Lok Sabha elections in the state only some five weeks away, the Left front government utilised the occasion to assail the opposition, saying its “most destructive agitation” had not only forced Nano to move to Gujarat, but also dealt a blow to the state’s image and slowed down its industrial momentum.

Speaking to the media, a crestfallen state Industry Minister Nirupam Sen said: “It (the small car) was supposed to have been launched here. It was a sensational international event which could not happen in our state. It is an unfortunate day for Bengal.”

“As a result of the most destructive movement of the state’s main opposition, the momentum which the state had gathered in industrialisation and the attention it was drawing from the national and international arena, has got a jolt,” he said.

“The dreams of the younger generation for a better future lie shattered. Nowhere in India such kind of destructive politics is practised,” said the minister, one of those whose untiring efforts had brought the Nano to Bengal’s Singur, 40 km from the city.

Meanwhile, an agitated main opposition Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee said she was not bothered by the event and even lost her cool with journalists for asking whether she now regretted her campaign that forced the world’s cheapest car out of West Bengal.

“We don’t care for Nano. That is not our business. We ignore it,” Banerjee said when asked by mediapersons for her reactions to the Nano launch.

Banerjee, who had called the media to release her party manifesto for the Lok Sabha polls, got angry when asked whether she rued the sustained campaign against land acquisition launched by her.

“Why? We are not bothered whether it is Nano or No-No. We can’t interfere in their business. I am not a partner,” she said, raising her decibel.

“You can’t ignore the interests of common people there (in Singur) whose land was forcibly taken by the government,” she said.

The direct telecast of the Nano launch had a high TRP in the state, where the event triggered animated debates in offices, coffee-tables and tea stalls.

“I still can’t come to terms with it. Had everything gone right, this launch would have happened in the city,” said Animesh Das, a South Kolkata college student.

In Singur, where the project was taking shape before it moved out, a blanket of grief enveloped the rural hamlet, with a section of dejected locals choosing not to watch the live telecast of the launch.

“Eighty percent work was done in the Singur factory. There was no point in putting a full stop to the work in this way,” a dejected Dibakar Das, a farmer who gave five acres for the Nano project in Hooghly district, told IANS.

“This was our project. But unfortunately it did not happen over here, it is difficult to digest the fact,” said Laxmi Devi, a villager.

Following a sustained agitation by main opposition Trinamool Congress-led farmers against what they called forcible acquisition of farmland for the project, the Tatas wound up their Nano plant and relocated it to Sanand in Gujarat late last year.

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