Kolkata: Former West Bengal chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee on Tuesday said that he "did not agree" with the popular perception that his successor in the top post Mamata Banerjee was honest. "I don't agree with the perception that she is honest," Bhattacharjee told a Bengali news channel when asked whether he agreed with the popular perception that Banerjee was honest. Asked to elaborate, Bhattacharjee asked the news channel to make its own investigation.
Strongly batting for industrialisation of West Bengal, Bhattacharjee said the present Trinamool Congress government "lacked vision" for setting up industry. "This government lacks vision. What will be the land policy? It cannot be true that the government will never acquire land even for public purpose. I am concerned about what will happen to West Bengal after five years," Bhattacharjee said. "After we left, not a single investment proposal came to the state. We had acquired half of the land for the Katwa power project, but it has run into a tangle. A national highway expansion has stalled. Where is West Bengal going? Where will our children find jobs," he added.
Asked about Banerjee's statement that about 10 lakh jobs have been created in the government and private sectors, Bhattacharjee said, "If you continue to repeat untruths, some will come to believe in them. But where are the jobs?" The former chief minister said that he personally felt the government should play an important role in land acquisition and if it did not, industrialists would have no other option other than land mafia or to sit idle.
Asked if he would go for industrialisation if he became the chief minister once more, Bhattacharjee replied, "Yes I will go for big industries. Because if you are able to bring in big industries, then medium scale and small scale industries will also come up in the state, which in turn will create jobs." When questioned about the CPI(M) party line that the government should not acquire land for private industries, Bhattacharjee said, "Yes there is such a mindset. But I personally feel it is not possible because a responsible government cannot do this (playing no role)."
He said industrialists could not be asked to acquire land and the issue was not to take away agricultural land. "You have to look at the bigger picture, how many jobs have been created because of an industry," he said. Bhattacharjee said only a new land policy could not solve the problem of land acquisition. "Only making a law won't serve the purpose. There are three stages. Firstly, you have to reach out to the masses, then determine the proper price of the land and thirdly (ensure) proper rehabilitation," he said.
Stating that a balance has to be kept between agriculture and industry and the government has to play a role, he said, "In Singur we managed to complete 85 per cent work. There was no problem there. A problem started in Nandigram and it spread its wings to Singur also. It created a problem and we failed to solve it and ultimately we were defeated."