West Bengal is only regressing, says former Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee

Commenting on the manner in which the Trinamool Congress has run the government since it came to power in May 2011 in West Bengal, former Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee on Tuesday said that “neighbourhood soirees” have transformed into “government soirees”.

“What used to be neighbourhood soirees can now been seen as government soirees. This is how the State Government is being run,” Mr. Bhattacharjee said in an interview to a news channel that was telecast on Tuesday.

He pointed out that “crores are being spent” on various functions organised by the Government even as large sums of money were being doled out to local sports clubs — “this being done from the State’s planned budgetary allocations.”

TV interview

In the interview — the first given by Mr. Bhattacharjee since the 2011 Assembly election results were declared — he spoke on various aspects of the performance of the Mamata Banerjee government ranging from “the lack of a complete vision” for industry, its handling of issues such as the demand for a separate State of Gorkhaland to communalisation of politics with “a revival of the mandir-masjid political agenda.”

“Leave aside the Trinamool Congress and the Communist Party of India (Marxist). Where will West Bengal stand at the end of their five years? ... The State is only regressing. As it regresses further and further back in time, I do not know where it shall eventually find itself,” Mr. Bhattacharjee said.

When asked about speeches made by Ms. Banerjee that she was nearing her target of providing 10 lakh jobs to the youth, he said, “Who will believe such mad claims?”

“There is a tendency to repeatedly say lies and say them in a loud voice. By doing so, some people may be misled into believing these claims,” he said.

On being asked about his present stand on land acquisition for industry, Mr. Bhattacharjee said he still maintained that the State must play a role in the process, “or else the industrialist will either go to the land mafia or do nothing.”

Overall development

When it was pointed out that the CPI(M) leadership had emphasised that it was against any forcible land acquisition, Mr. Bhattacharjee said it was stated in the “overall context of developments in India.”

In Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh, special economic zones (SEZs) were being set up on thousands of acres and 50 per cent of that land was being used for real estate. “This cannot be allowed on any count,” he said.

Transformation in Vietnam

“I have seen with my own eyes the transformation in Vietnam because of SEZs, China has worked miracles with them,” Mr. Bhattacharjee said, adding a small fraction of dissent would be there in any land acquisition.

On being asked to comment on the manner in which Ms. Banerjee handled the unrest in the Darjeeling hills — an issue that has again raised its head in recent weeks — Mr. Bhattacharjee said her biggest mistake was to allow the association with a separate State even as the tripartite agreement was signed.

He pointed out that the various nuances of the issue had been ignored, including Adivasis, and the demands of the people of the Dooars and Terai region.

  • On Mamata’s claim on jobs, he says, “Who will believe such mad claims?”

  • State must play a role in land acquisition process: Buddhadeb