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Updated: December 27, 2013 01:42 IST

Challenging task ahead for Amit Mitra

Indrani Dutta
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West Bengal Industry and Finance Minister Amit Mitra
The Hindu
West Bengal Industry and Finance Minister Amit Mitra

Lack of investment flow may have hastened Partha’s exit

With two key portfolios in his kitty, West Bengal’s new Industry and Finance Minister Amit Mitra faces a challenging task before him.Besides Finance, he is now in-charge of Industry.

It now remains to be seen how the former director-general of FICCI balances his two critical roles. Industry was guarded in its observation but said Mr. Mitra’s task would perhaps be more challenging than Partha Chatterjee, who was seen till the other day as a heavyweight politician of the party.

Mr. Chatterjee, who sent in his resignation from key corporations like the ailing Haldia Petrochemical Corporation and West Bengal Industrial Development Corporation (apex industry promotion agency), soon after the oath taking ceremony said, “Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has done what she thought was best… people will decide whether I have performed or not,” he told journalists later.

Mr. Chatterjee, who was very close to the party supremo, too, has a corporate background (he is a former senior employee of Andrew Yule) and was by her side through the violent agitation over land at Singur and Nandigram.

Industry here saw him as a sincere and accessible person. However, his appeal was limited to the State and this is perhaps where Mr. Mitra, a new comer to politics but with wider corporate acceptability, started closing in on him.

Ms. Banerjee had made known her dissatisfaction with his performance. The first signs came through the meetings of the core committee on industry that Ms. Banerjee set up weeks after she assumed office, as a grievance resolution mechanism. Many in the industry felt that it had become ineffective and was not fulfilling its objective. Earlier this year, Ms. Banerjee announced that she would chair the meetings instead of Mr. Chatterjee. Many feel that the move had sent a very strong message that she means business.

The success of the West Bengal road show in Mumbai this year was another instance where Mr. Chatterjee was sidelined by his party chief, who felt that Mr. Mitra’s all-India reach would be more effective in bringing the corporate bigwigs to the show and to the State.

The fact remains that within the nearly 31-month long tenure of the Mamata Banerjee government, there has been little to show by way of industrial progress. Her decisive mandate attracted scores of corporate bigwigs to her door with glower bouquets and project blueprints but little of those translated into industrial investment.

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