A day after Ratan Tata said at an interactive session that industrial development in West Bengal was still not visible, State Finance and Industry Minister Amit Mitra on Thursday launched a strong attack on the top industrialist, saying he “suffers from lapse of reason” and was “ill-briefed on the company’s activities in Bengal and other investments”.
“A host of Tata Group companies are investing in West Bengal in a big way and Ratan Tata seems to be totally ignorant about that,” Mitra said on the sidelines of an IT meet organised by the CII, Eastern Region here. “Tata is pursuing different hobbies now — flying aeroplanes,” he said sarcastically.
In his address at the CII meet too, Mitra took digs at the chairman emeritus of Tata Sons. He said Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) was partnering with the West Bengal government in a big way in setting up biometric database at the panchayat level for delivery and disbursement of various schemes and the huge job contract landed with the TCS through tendering in which it was the sole participant. “Tata’s words yesterday did not reflect that,” Mitra said.
He said Tata Metaliks was expanding its activities in Bengal, TCS was expanding its activities and aiming to recruit an additional 20,000 IT professionals in the state, and the Tata-Hitachi joint venture in Kharagpur was doing well. He said the Ambanis too are setting up a cement plant at a cost of Rs 600 crore in Purulia and the Emami Group is also investing in a cement plant. “Mr Tata seems to be not briefed on these. Ratan Tata er motibrohm hoeche (Tata is suffering from lapse of reason),” Mitra said.
On his Twitter handle @RNTata2000, Tata thanked those who had supported him, clarified that he had not spoken of industrial development in West Bengal as a whole, and described Mitra’s “anger” as “needless”. He also tweeted a link to a short statement, in which he said he had found Mitra’s comments “surprising”, and asked the minister to show him “what industrial development projects (he) missed while driving through Rajarhat”.
“My comments yesterday referred to my drive from the airport to the Maurya via Rajarhat. I saw lots of residential and commercial development but not much industrial development. I made no comment about the industrial development in the State. Mr Mitra’s comments are therefore surprising,” the statement said.
“Mr Mitra might believe I have “lost my mind”. I would be delighted if he could show me what industrial development projects I missed while driving through Rajarhat. If he cannot, then I would have to conclude that he has a very fertile imagination.”
Earlier in the day, West Bengal Urban Development Minister Firhad Hakim too took up the issue. “Bengal’s industrial development does not depend on Ratan Tata’s certificate. If he wants, Mr Tata can join politics directly. He can very well test the ground. But even a blind person can see how fast Rajarhat is developing,” he said.
“Tata was indulging in politics by referring to the Singur land issue. In fact, we had nothing against Tatas. Our party agitated against the manner in which land was taken away from farmers in Singur. Tata is now talking about gun- trigger-bullet. We are talking of friendship and development. Tata seemed to have suddenly emerged out of nowhere and talking irrelevant things,” Hakim said.
Mitra earlier painted a rosy picture about IT growth in West Bengal and said more than 800 IT and ITes companies were now operating out of West Bengal and they included all the big names.