The proposed inauguration of the city’s first luxury mall ‘Quest’ by Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee is raising eyebrows given the stand taken by the All India Trinamool Congress supremo on foreign direct investment (FDI) in retail.
‘Quest’ is promoted by the city-based RP-Sanjiv Goenka Group and would have, among other features, a ‘luxury avenue’. Several international brand stores from Switzerland, U.K., Italy, France and the U.S.A. would mark their presence in this high-end retail outlet.
The mall’s façade has a unique multi-hued lighting, which would keep changing colours. This has been conceived by Bliss Fasman, a New York-based lighting design firm. The design and architectural expertise too comes from U.S.A.-based RTKL Associates, who have implemented the job through their London office. Dhananjay Dhake, a globally-renowned architect, associated with the rebuilding of the Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris, has contributed to the designing.
Ms. Banerjee is set to visit and dedicate the project on Monday evening. The project was conceived during the previous Left Front regime.
Ms. Banerjee’s party had opposed FDI in retail and had pulled out of the United Progressive Alliance II government in September last year, citing its opposition to this and other policies. Simultaneously, it also passed a resolution in the West Bengal Legislative Assembly opposing entry of large domestic and foreign capital in multi-brand retail.
In fact, as an opposition power, soon after the successful Singur agitation, Ms. Banerjee’s party supporters had physically blocked the inauguration of a mall by the erstwhile RPG Group a few years back. Issues leading to that development were subsequently ‘resolved’ and a chain of those retail hyper stores were rolled out.
While political observers expressed their surprise at Ms. Banerjee’s proposed presence at the luxury mall, the party saw nothing amiss. It felt that there was nothing wrong with this retail venture, being set up by an Indian promoter.
While New Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai and Bengaluru has such malls already, Kolkata was the only metro without such a high-end retail outlet.