Nobel laureate Amartya Sen said here on Friday that if the West Bengal government and the Opposition are interested in the future of the State, both the parties should hold discussions - taking decisions on all social, economic and political issues on the basis of dialogue. He said that stability of the State was crucial for economic progress. Professor Sen also wanted the issue of social inequality to be addressed seriously.

In an interview to a local television channel on the social and political issues dogging the State, he said that both the State Government and the Opposition have shown an aversion towards holding discussions with each other.

“Both the sides are to be blamed. When the Leftists wielded power, there was not enough evidence of them sitting for dialogues with the Opposition. I do not support the Stalinist tradition of the Leftists. Now that their power has been considerably reduced, they are ready for discussion, but the Opposition, under the presumption of their new-found strength, is declining,” he observed.

Change needed

Underlining the necessity of a change in the State (when asked whether the Trinamool Congress-Congress alliance could bring about a social change if it comes to power), Professor Sen said that the real significance of the word ‘change’ has to be realised and discussed.

“If change means mere overthrowing of the current government and securing the political throne, it is not correct…people are seeking a behavioural change here that should be for better governance and establishment of peace. Unless that could be brought about, the vicious cycle of political violence will continue,” he said.

On the subject of the tribal movement in Lalgarh and consequent Maoist violence, Professor Sen blamed the overlooking by political parties of the issue of social inequality of the Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and Muslims.

“There is a reason to feel sorry for Lalgarh. Where was the sympathy for Lalgarh all this while? Even if the State government is being accused of being inefficient, where was the Opposition for so long? Rather than bringing out a political change, the area was turned over to the hands of social bandits,” he asserted.

Professor Sen, however, expressed the hope that the situation in Lalgarh and Darjeeling could be solved through dialogue and advocated the importance of people’s role in bringing about a ‘political change.’

Both important

Highlighting the importance of both agriculture and industry to uplift the economy of the State, Professor Sen said it would be “very tragic” if the losing political party started attacking the winning party, causing industrialisation to suffer.

“Bengal showed interest in industry since the days of Ptolemy, but currently everyone is busy violently outdoing one another…agriculture and industry co-exist in countries like Australia, Canada and Africa where agriculture has progressed. So the mindset, that thinking about industrialisation is futile, should be changed,” he said.