New Delhi: West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Saturday countered Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's criticism of those opposing FDI in retail, saying she was with the common man who was "outdated". "What can we do? We are grassroots-level people, we are the representative of the people. And the common man is always backdated (outdated). I am proud to say we are with the people," she told reporters here after addressing the 85th Annual General Meeting of FICCI in New Delhi, where the Prime Minister made the remarks.
Mamata, whose party has vehemently opposed FDI in multi-brand retail and has quit the ruling UPA alliance on this issue, was responding to Singh's remarks terming those opposing to FDI as being outdated. Referring to opposition to opening of the retail sector to global supermarkets, Singh said: "I am afraid that those who oppose these moves are either ignorant of global realities or are constrained by outdated ideologies. Making a spirited appeal to India Inc to invest in West Bengal, Mamata said her government has recently approved a land allotment policy to introduce transparency and it was for the investors to "nurture the potential available in the state".
"Our (people from Bengal) talent is very good. Our talent work everywhere from NASA to bhasa...from computer to compounder. If you want to nurture it, invest in the state, don't worry," she said. "Labour is very cheap (in Bengal). We don't allow factory to close down and strike as they earlier used to," she said, referring to the previous Left Front government resorting to strikes and lockouts.
The Chief Minister stated that forceful acquisition of land was not conducive for the state or for setting up of industries. "Sometime people say acquire the land, fire the people and then build industry. Industry cannot be set up if there is disturbance...if there is goons and guns, but industry can only be set up in a peaceful manner in peaceful areas and co-exist with the common people," she said.
The West Bengal chief minister also lashed out at the previous Left Front government for the huge debt burden which her government had inherited, saying the state ranks first on this count and that it is paying more than what its earns. Mamata also took a dig at a section in media and those who were portraying a negative image of her state. She said "negative and destructive attitude are always highlighted by the media. I think whatever the constructive work we do must be encouraged by it".
During the last one-and-half-year rule of her government, she said, "99 per cent of our commitment have been implemented". "A commitment is a commitment. Our commitment is our credential, and our transparency and accountability are our asset. Whatever I say...It may not suit you, you can criticise it, I welcome it... misleading the people is a crime," she said.
The state government has taken up e-tendering and e-governance initiatives during the short period, she said. The tax collection has also seen a jump of 35 per cent. While in the current first quarter, the GDP growth of the country is 5.5 per cent, it is 6.94 per cent in Bengal, she said. Mamata also claimed a significant change in work culture in West Bengal noting that mandays lost has come down significantly from sixty five lakh in 2010-11 to five thousand this year. "We have land bank, you come and invest and I will give you land whatever is available. You purchase the land, I will give you the permission," she said.