Ratan Tata asks Bengal to make a choice, creates fresh furore

Written by Political Bureau | Kolkata, Oct 17 | Updated: Oct 18 2008, 05:41am hrs
An anguished Ratan Tata, in an open letter to the people of West Bengal published in the form of an advertisement in select newspapers in Kolkata once again explained the rationale behind his decision to pull out the Nano factory form Singur. Even as Tata raised critical issues like history repeating itself for Bengal in the form of investments flying out of the state as it had happened 30 years ago, the letter created a fresh stir in political as well as industry circles.

The letter reminded the denizens,Many may have forgotten that West Bengal was the major center for heavy industry and steel fabrication. Agitation and violence drove away many industries around 30 years ago. It has only been in recent times that the present government has been able to rebuild the confidence of the investors to invest in the state. It is therefore ironic that at this crucial time and moment of hope for the state, history appears to be repeating itself.

Explaining why he was writing the open letter, Tata stated,Over the past three weeks, there have been statements by vested interests criticising the decision taken by Tata Motors to move the Nano car project out of Singur claiming that this decision was hasty and politically motivated. I therefore feel compelled to explain how our dream of contributing to the industrial revival of West Bengal has been shattered by an environment of politically-motivated agitation and hostility that finally left us with no option but to withdraw the Nano project from West Bengal, the letter stated.

Tata openly blamed the confrontative actions of Trinamool Congress for the pull out and showered praise on the investor-friendly policies of chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee.

The letter urged the people of Begal, particularly the younger citizens, to express their views and aspirations as to what they would like to see West Bengal become in the years ahead. Would they like to support the present government of 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 in the state a better life or a state consumed by a destructive political environment of confrontation, agitation, violence and lawlessness Do they want education and jobs in the industrial and high-tech sectors or do they see their future prosperity achieved on a stay as we are basis, was the Tata Group chairmans appeal to the youth.

There was mixed reaction to the letter from the industry as well as political circles.

Sougata Roy, a senior Trinamool Congress leader, reacted sharply, I think this is unprecedented that Tatas have stooped down to such a level to take political sides. How much they love Bengal is clear from the alacrity with which they moved away to Gujarat. We never asked him to shift. All we said was let the factory be there but return the land of the unwilling farmers. With it (the letter) they are trying to offer a justification for shifting elsewhere. It only reconfirms that their decision to move away was done in consultation with the CPI(M).

Congress legislature party leader, Manas Bhuniya refused to make any definite statement. The letter talks of a constructive Buddha and a destructive Mamata. I belong to Congress and I will not comment on the letter. It was a personal opinion of Ratan Tata and it is for the younger generation to decide whether they would agree to what Ratan Tata has to say.