The latest National Sample Survey data show West Bengal topped in creation of new jobs in the manufacturing sector among all States.
During the six years between 2004 and 2011, more than 40 per cent of new manufacturing jobs created in India were generated in the then Left-ruled West Bengal.
In all, 58.7 lakh manufacturing jobs were created across India.
Of these, 24 lakh were in West Bengal. With 14.9 lakh jobs, BJP-ruled Gujarat was a distant second, shows the state-wise data accessed exclusively by The Hindu.
The data is significant as the widespread resistance in 2008 to the Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee government’s acquisition of farmland in Singur for a small car factory was believed to have hit West Bengal’s attractiveness to industry. The State eventually lost the Tata Nano factory project to Gujarat.
Even during the anti-industrial campaign by the Trinamool Congress, allegedly with the help of Maoists in 2007-08, the State achieved 12 per cent industrial growth, West Bengal’s Finance Minister from 1987 to 2012 Asim Dasgupta told The Hindu.
It also assumes significance as the BJP’s prime ministerial candidate, Narendra Modi, is touting “manufacturing” and “jobs” amongst his main planks in his election campaign and also the ‘Gujarat model’.
“Our objective in successive budgets was to increase the State Domestic Product in a manner that will generate maximum possible employment. Even in our last year, 2010-11, close to a lakh jobs were generated,” said Mr. Dasgupta.
“It is widely known that the Assembly election victory of the Left Front in 2006 was seen by Mr. Bhattacharjee as a vote for his emphasis on industrialisation,” said a West Bengal-based Left leader.
Dr. Dasgupta attributes the jobs performance to his government’s push to small-scale industry.
West Bengal has the largest number of small-scale manufacturing units, he said.
“Between 1991 and 2011— when we revised our industrial policy under Jyoti Basu — 2,531 new big and medium units were set up.”Best period of industrialisation
A Communist Party of India(Marxist) source said that after the 1960s, the State saw its best period of industrialisation during 2004-2011.
Small-scale manufacturing enterprises were developed at the district level and all this culminated in Singur.
Prior to Singur, 1,872 middle and big industrial projects were developed during the period.