West Bengal Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee has admitted corruption has influenced CPI(M) rank and file and some of its leaders are behaving like “local kings” who do not go to the people.
“We are living in a society which is basically corrupt” and it had influenced “our leaders and our boys” too, he said adding, however, Mamata Banerjee-led Trinamool Congress was not the change Bengal needed as they “do not have any programme or policy“.
“Some (CPI-M) leaders are behaving like local kings. They don’t go to the people, they just dictate. We are sorting out these problems. We have identified a good number of leaders, we have warned them, we have punished them,” he told ‘Malayala Manorama’ newspaper in an exclusive interview.
The Chief Minister said there was a need to improve the quality and ideological understanding of the comrades. “I don’t think everything has gone wrong. But we have to change, No doubt about it,” he said.
Asked whether he had offered to resign earlier following electoral setbacks, he answered in the negative and said it was not a question of an individual’s resignation.
He dismissed reports linking his absence at CPI(M) leadership meetings in New Delhi to the party’s Bengal unit’s unhappiness with the Central leadership and said he never skipped any deliberations deliberately. Mr. Bhattacharjee said a Kolkata-based newspaper group was trying to provoke him into saying something against CPI(M) General Secretary Prakash Karat. “I know Prakash and have very good relations with him,” he said.
Asked about Banerjee’s slogan of bringing “change” to the State, he said Trinamool “does not have any idea what change means. It should be a programmatic change. What programme does Mamata have?”
“What is her land policy? What is her food policy? Education? Nothing. Trinamool Congress wants us to go so that they can take over. This is not the change that Bengal needs,” Mr. Bhattacharjee said.
On whether the land acquired in Singur for Tata’s small car factory will be returned to farmers as demanded by Ms. Banerjee, he said it was not legally possible.
“We will try and set up an automobile industry. If Ratan Tata is willing, it is all right. If not, we will go for another industrial house,” he said.
He also said Bengal “missed the bus” of Information Technology.
He said he personally saw to it that the agitations did not affect the IT sector.
“I remember participating in an agitation opposing computers. I don’t repent that time. But we realised that it was unnecessary. Mumbai and Bangalore took advantage of the opportunity and reaped benefits. We missed the bus,” he said.