Nano Episode: A Shame for the People of West Bengal

“I’ve made a major investment here … to move will be at a great cost to Tata Motors and to shareholders.” “(But) there is a concern about our people, a definite concern about not being wanted.”

“It is for Calcutta (Kolkata) to decide if we want to be an unwanted resident or a good corporate citizen of West Bengal.” “We cannot operate in this environment.” “If West Bengal wants us, we will be very very happy to stay and be part of the state’s development.”

“I have a very soft corner for West Bengal. But now I have the feeling that Tatas are unwanted in West Bengal for whatsoever reason.”

“If anybody is under the impression that since we have made the investment, we will not move – then we will move to protect our people.”

“I cannot bring our people and family to West Bengal if they are going to be beaten, if there is going to be violence.”

Ratan Tata has made all these remarks to answer the questions from the press while he was in Kolkata today about Nano. Singur is certainly the bone in the neck for Tata. But what is happening today in Singur is nothing new to me. All my life in Hind Motor I saw the same happening. And that’s why I had wondered when Tata decided to locate this plant for a new car that can revolutionize the manufacturing sector and particularly auto manufacturing globally in West Bengal. Perhaps he wouldn’t have imagined the nuisance value of Mamta with Buddha totally sold for the project.

Mamta unfortunately is obstinate. She has refused to budge. She wants ‘Ratan Tata to concede her demand for return of 400 acre forcibly taken away from unwilling farmers.’ She doesn’t loose anything. Bengal will loose. But it hardly matters for her. She calls Tata’s statements as blackmail when for even a layman it must clear that it is she who is blackmailing. She knows with so much of investment (Rs.15 billion i.e. $375 million) already gone in the project and a timeframe for the start of commercial production announced, it would be tough for Tata to withdraw and go to some other plant. Most of the facilities are dedicated to Nano. Other manufacturing facilities are already short of capacity.

Mamta would have asked for whatever she thought as a good compensation for the farmers instead of sticking to one point agenda of giving back the land to the farmers. I am sure it is not the wish of the farmers too. If Mamta withdraws and Tata deals directly with the farmers, the issue can be resolved in just five minutes. But Mamta will not allow that to happen. Unfortunately, it is the battle with CPM that she wishes to win to rule the state. It’s Chanakya type resolve to take revenge from Buddha more so from CPM that humiliated her many a time in the past. Unfortunately, CPM because of its dreaded cadre force has become unpopular. And Congress is trying to take advantage of Mamta’s popularity by going on her side after the leftists withdrew the support for its government at the centre.

For years, even when she was with Congress, I considered Mamta always a fickle minded and immature politician, perhaps no better than Uma Bharati. Perhaps lately she is nurturing the ambition of Mayawati. I wish with time she would have been a mature politician to think a little more about Sonar West Bengal. A project of Nano’s importance must have been a welcome at cost of the sentiments of 400 individuals.

Why the sane people of West Bengal are deaf and dumb? Why can’t they tell Mamta that they are not with her obstinacy in this case at least?

I feel ashamed to see this downfall of West Bengal and its intelligent people who were strong willed to protest against a right cause. Should I assume that the people of West Bengal don’t want Nano to be produced from West Bengal and the district of Hooghly becoming a Detroit of a sort?

Will soft-spoken Tata meet Mamta and try once more to salvage the situation? May be, the meeting can soften her. I pray to Saraswati (Goddess of Learning) to change Dr. Mamta’s mind. Will Brahma help us as he used to do in good old days?

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