KOLKATA: In sharp contrast to the Bengal BJP’s stand, Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Sunday praised the TMC Government led by Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and promised special economic concessions for industries coming up in the state.
While inaugurating Bandhan Bank here, the Finance Minister took many by surprise when he said: “There is a pleasant change in the colour I now see in West Bengal. In my younger days when I used to come here, I saw only red but now I see blue and white.
“The existing entrepreneurs were shifting out and West Bengal, which was known not for producing many entrepreneurs but certainly known for producing intellectuals, even (Bandhan Bank chairman) Ashok Lahiri and (state Finance Minister) Amit Mitra had shifted out,” he said, looking at Mitra who was seated on the dais. “I do hope (it is) this change of colour that has brought back both of them,” the minister said.
And the Opposition CPM used the opportunity to take potshots at both the BJP and the TMC. Said CPM politburo member Mohammad Salim: “Bandhan first started as a microfinance institution and succeeded in rural Bengal in the last two decades due to the economic development ushered in by the Left Front government. During the TMC rule, all microfinance funds were routed to chit fund companies. The BJP had said they wouldn’t judge the state by colour, but now Jaitley sees colour in everything in Bengal. This proves the deepening relationship between the BJP and the TMC.”
Jaitley announced special financial benefits for the state. “Like Andhra Pradesh, for which special concessions were announced since it lost Hyderabad due to the division of the state, there will be concessions for Bihar and Bengal too.”
Much to the pleasure of Mamata, who had been demanding a special economic package for the state, the Union minister said: “The party to which I belong to and the party ruling this state are opposed to each other and will continue to do so. However, political differences will not matter and be a hurdle for the growth and development of Bengal.”
Critical of the TMC Government, the BJP’s state unit had alleged that capital and businesspersons were fleeing the state owing to the deteriorating law and order situation and extortions by the workers of the ruling party.
“Industry here means extortion, atrocities on women and the manufacturing of bombs by terrorists from Bangladesh,” a BJP leader had said.