Lok Sabha Speaker Somnath Chatterjee has spoken his mind, again. Known to air his opinions frankly, Chatterjee minced no words in saying that development of the country was being held back by petty political disagreements, an apparent reference to the Singur issue.
He was delivering the 2008 JRD Tata Memorial Lecture organised by Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry.
The Speaker was of the view that “certain sections of society were out to distract people from the path of development”. “In pursuing a narrow political agenda, not only do such elements undermine the well-conceived and important schemes of development, but hurt the long-term interest of the same people whom they pretend to be helping,” he added.
Lack of political agreement has held up a key project like the Singur plant in West Bengal, which would have rolled out India’s cheapest car. Trinamool party's Mamata Bannerjee has been leading an uprising against turning farmland into factories. Chatterjee on Friday called upon political parties to work towards arriving at a consensus on the prickly issues of industrialisation, especially when the choice was between agriculture and industry.
“Wherever possible, we should amalgamate industry and agriculture taking into account the urgent necessity of development… and the resources that a particular region can offer,” Chatterjee said. Urging political parties to shun “partisan considerations”, Chatterjee said: “Economic development cannot be subjected to political muscle-flexing without caring for their destructive effect, only to suit narrow political interest.”
Chatterjee reminded the industry of its duty to care for the rights of workers.