The business of the West Bengal government is business and those who have a problem with this are out of touch with reality. Tough words from chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee as he seeks to defend the economic course he has set for the state after a barrage of criticism from Left economists. The disconnect between the chief minister and a section of party ideologues has been clear ever since he took over. The Nandigram and Singur incidents only served to strengthen the case against Mr Bhattacharjee and his supporters. Yet, the chief minister’s confidence that he will not rollback but proceed cautiously is not misplaced. He is clear that the people of the state have voted for the Left Front in the full knowledge that it would work within the parameters of a capitalist economy. The vote was for economic reform.
Another issue over which the chief minister has been pilloried is that of taking loans from international financial institutions. A shortsighted view from the comrades when it comes to a state that can do with all the help it can get. And this is exactly what the chief minister has made clear. Mr Bhattacharjee is not being combative for the sake of it. He knows that the failure or success of his economic policies will determine how his party does during the next elections. It is now apparent to all but the party theorists that there can be no return to the days of socialism, a model which delivered very little to the state. The powerful party politburo, which was once chary of the Buddha model, is now solidly behind him as it realises that industrialisation with a human face has the potential to life the state out of the morass it has been in all these years.
Things are looking up for West Bengal with industrialists who would not have touched the state with bargepole earlier flocking to it. Mr Bhattacharjee should be left alone to do fulfill the mandate the people have given him. If he falls down on the job, well, it’s his neck on the line. Advice from the sidelines is fine, but it should also be in tune with realities on the ground. It is a sign of maturity and confidence within the party that this spat between the chief minister and the economic ideologues has not caused bitter divisions. Such differences are now being treated as par for the course, or as Mr Bhattacharjee would like it, economic reform course.