Tata’s ‘open letter’ raises political storm in West Bengal

October 17th, 2008 - 9:43 pm ICT by IANS  

Kolkata, Oct 17 (IANS) In an advertisement splashed in several newspapers here, Tata Group chairman Ratan Tata Friday warned the people of West Bengal of the “destructive political environment of confrontation” that he said was being espoused by Mamata Banerjee’s Trinamool Congress - in the process, kicking off a political storm.While the Trinamool Congress alleged that Tata’s comments betrayed his “nexus” with the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) that leads West Bengal’s ruling Left Front, top CPI-M leaders said the industrialist has spoken on the basis of personal experiences.

A fortnight after pulling out the Nano plant from Singur, Tata, in the advertisement, asked the people to support either the Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee-led government “to build a prosperous state” or suffer the “destructive political environment of confrontation”, which according to him was purused by the Trinamool Congress.

Reacting sharply to the advertisement, Banerjee said Tata was behaving like a political leader. “He has become a part of the CPI-M’s disinformation campaign against us,” she said.

Added Partha Chattopadhyay, Trinamool heavyweight and leader of opposition in the state assembly: “Now the cat is out of the bag. Tata should take over as the CPI-M state secretary. It seems he has kick-started the Lok Sabha poll campaign for the CPI-M.”

Another Trinamool leader, Sougata Roy, said it was unprecedented for an industrialist to come out with big advertisements in newspapers eulogising a government and running down an opposition party.

Senior CPI-M leader Shyamal Chakraborty, however, saw nothing unnatural in Tata’s statement. “Why should he have to speak for us? He has spoken on the basis of his own experience.”

CPI-M state secretariat member Benoy Konar said: “Tata had spent Rs.1,500 crore (Rs.15 billion) in Singur before he was compelled to withdraw. Naturally he knows what is what in the state.”

Front partner Communist Party of India (CPI) was unwilling to accord any importance to Tata’s comments. “Industrialists can never be our friends. They come to the state to safeguard their own interests,” said CPI state secretary Manju Majumdar.

The Congress said the people would not like such comments from an industrialist.

“There will be no takers for his comments among the people. People won’t like a monopolistic industrialist making such statements,” state Congress executive president Subrata Mukherjee.

In the advertisement, headlined “Open Letter to the Citizens of West Bengal”, Tata asked the people, particularly the younger citizens, what kind of state they wanted.

“Would they like to support the present government of Mr. Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee to build a prosperous state with the rule of law, modern infrastructure and industrial growth, supporting a harmonious investment in the agricultural sector to give the people of the state a better life?

“Or would they like to see the state consumed by a destructive political environment of confrontation, agitation, violence and lawlessness?”

Then he went on to fire the salvo that had Kolkata talking: “The confrontative actions by the Trinamool Congress led by Ms. Mamata Banerjee and supported by vested interests and certain political parties… have caused serious disruption to the progress of the Nano plant.”

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