Special Correspondent

KOLKATA: The need for dialogues and finding a common ground, despite political differences, is the only way out for West Bengal, Union Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee said.

Speaking, through videoconference, at a summit on ‘West Bengal: The Way Ahead,' organised by a local television channel, he said though West Bengal was in an advantageous position, its progress was not up to the mark. The challenges were to maintain communal amity and find common grounds for creating a healthy democratic ambience in the State.

CPI(M) polit bureau member Sitaram Yechuri said the way forward depended on stabilising the ‘tripod' of keeping the State unified, maintaining peace and embarking on a path of economic growth, shunning narrow political gains.

“Bengal is poised for a cultural and intellectual renaissance. This is important for India and also for Asia,” he said. The State being at the crossroads was throwing up various challenges.

He said the State's potential could be achieved, if people came together to stop the divisive and separatist forces. It was also important to maintain peace and stability. “Anarchy and lawlessness, either by the Maoists or by any other force, has to stop. I tell the left wing extremists, ‘put down your gun and come and face the people'.”

Noting that West Bengal reached a plateau with having made good progress in agricultural growth and registered an increase in rural prosperity, Mr. Yechuri said land alone could not ensure sustained livelihood; there was a need for speedy industrialisation. The problems in industrialisation had to be resolved.

Union Minister of State for Company Affairs Salman Khurshhed, too, highlighted the need for dialogues, saying as a partyman, he was concerned at the breakdown or absence of dialogues in the State.

“Between the Trinamool Cngress and the State government and also between the State government and the left wing extremists.”

He said that India's success story would be incomplete in its sustainability, if West Bengal, led by Kolkata, did not figure in it. It would also be easier for India to take on China, if Kolkata retained its position as the gateway of the east.