If ‘Bengal Leads’ conclave to invite investment is to end on a rudderless note today, days after the mega success of ‘Vibrant Gujarat’, there is a problem in West Bengal. And it starts with the CM
Shantanu Datta | January 17, 2013
Without me at helm, Bengal would have been auctioned.
That’s the latest from Mamata Banerjee. In this Oscar season, if there was an award for megalomaniac scripts, she would have certainly been one of the hopefuls — perhaps contending with five other of her remarks made since she became the West Bengal chief minister in the summer of 2011.
But, we digress.
“The government is running because I am here,” she said at a rally in West Midnapore district on Wednesday, according to a report in today’s Indian Express. “If I had not taken charge of the state it would have certainly gone for an auction. They (CPI-M and Congress) should thank us for taking charge of the state.”
That she used an allegory that would make an A-grade fiction writer proud — “the opposition parties appear before the media with faces painted with powder to criticise us” is also an aside. A departure from her megalomania-mating-with-class-monitor performance at the three-day ‘Bengal Leads’ summit in Haldia, which winds up on Thursday (January 17).
From hollering up industrialists (some present, many absent, everyone stunned) to come on stage to making, nay literally forcing, Dhunseri Petrochem and Tea chairman CK Dhanuka and RP-Sanjiv Goenka Group (of music label Saregama fame) chairman Sanjiv Goenka sing "Ae Mere Pyare Watan" and Tagore's "Jodi tor daak shune keu na ashey tobe ekla cholo re" (made famous outside Bengal initially by Mahatma Gandhi and more recently by Amitabh Bachchan’s heavily accented Bangla rendition of the song in Vidya Balan-starrer ‘Kahaani’), she did it all.
Microphone in hand, ambling mock-purposefully across the stage, showing mock-irritation at party leaders for delays, calling industrialists by first name to count out their problems and pronouncing deadlines for investment, making everyone fall in line, and perfecting, for the sake of class monitors who care to learn from her rendition, the art of conducting a school annual performance with VIP attendees. In short, doing everything, and hogging all the limelight herself, besides letting the event be for what it was originally and actually meant for: bring in industry and investment for the state, and let the voice of those bringing in the work and the moolah be heard.
Banerjee could, of course, have taken a leaf out of her Gujarat counterpart Narendra Modi’s handling of a similar event just last week. Modi’s three-day ‘Vibrant Gujarat’ conclave, held from January 11-13, got investment commitments worth thousands of crores from India Inc as well as multinationals (the final figures were not announced), with captains of industry feting Modi (Anil Ambani taking the lead, calling Modi the “leader of leaders, king of kings”).
Modi himself, though, kept it to the point, pointing out why corporate honchos should park their money in Gujarat, and why Gujarat is showing the way to India.
While that last bit can be debated and criticised, the point remains that Modi addressed India Inc the way they want to be addressed. Monitor Mamata addressed them the way she wants them to be addressed.
And therein lay the difference. In fact, she even asked industrialists to write to her if they face any problem. “I have opened an email account. Please take my email id and mail me directly anytime. I will personally do the needful,” she said during the inauguration speech.
No one, of course, told her that both her and industry leaders’ days of pen-friendship is over. If the industrialists face any problem, they would not write to Banerjee. They would simply get up, brush off the dust, check the time, do the tickets and travel to another state to park their money in. Perhaps Gujarat, as Ratan Tata showed with his Tata Nano project.
But, then, it’s expecting a little too much for Megalomania Banerjee to realise that.
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