The Nano may have been a passion for Ratan Tata, but for the Left Front government in West Bengal, it is a project that could help restore the state’s lost glory and give the much needed image makeover to woo investors back.
Mamata Banerjee, firebrand leader of Trinamool Congress, is determined to play spoilsport, however. Opposing the project, as in opposing anything that the comrades do, is crucial to her political fortune, especially as the progress of the Nano project overlapped with local polls.
Tata has so far locked for reconciliation, but on Friday he chose to pick the most tried and tested trick of people in politics. He threatened to pull out, even though few think he will actually carry out the threat.
His comments appeared to have caught Trinamool Congress off guard. “We were expecting some kind of a feeler from Tata Motors, or a compromise formula from government,” said a Trinamool leader on condition of anonymity. “But Tata’s statement took us by surprise.”
Tata’s comments appeared to have also been aimed at a budding opposition from the state unit of the Congress party. Any Congress opposition would be embarrassing for the party central leaders in New Delhi, especially when Tata heads the trade and business advisory council of the prime minister.
Meanwhile, the Communist Party of India (Marxist) held a brainstorming session, which a source said, concluded that Tata’s stance would help the Left Front government and isolate Mamata on this issue.
Earlier in the day, Industry Minister Nirupam rushed to Singur to address a rally there and then, back in Kolkata, he spoke to members of the Bengal Chamber of Commerce and Industries.
“I request you to ask your conscience whether you support this mindless agitation that wants all development projects to stop and say no to progress,” Sen said. “This is not our fight to save the Tata factory. This is a movement to restore Bengal’s lost glory.”