Railways Minister Mamata Banerjee, known for leading agitations against the Tata Group's small car project in Singur and a special economic zone in Nandigram, was lavishly praised by West Bengal industrialists at a meeting in Kolkata.
"We have confidence (that) under your leadership we can contribute meaningfully to India's development," RPG Enterprises vice-chairman Sanjiv Goenka said at an interaction in Kolkata on Friday.
"Congratulations for initiating path-breaking measures for modernising the railways with a human face," was what Harshpati Singhania, president of Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI), had to say about the railways minister.
Singur and Nandigram, which saw Banerjee lead strident protests against land acquisition for industries, seemed like fairy tales as industrialists vied with one another to laud Banerjee. There was not a word about the widespread criticism earlier, that her agitations were scaring investors away from West Bengal.
"The meeting was outstanding. The industry is very positive about this meeting," Sanjay Budhia, managing director of Patton International Ltd, said afterwards.
The sentiment was echoed by Sandipan Chakravortty, ex-deputy chairman of the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) and Tata Ryerson Ltd managing director.
"There is a sea change in her attitude. Her body language, words everything has changed. She has rekindled the flame of industrialisation with lots of good words," he said.
Banerjee said she would meet industry barons every three months.
Ramesh Maheswari, president and CEO of Texmaco LtdM said: "It was her first interaction after she became the railways minister and she has her agenda to shed the anti-industry image and she has succeeded in that."
A year ago on August 19, 2008, Banerjee had met chamber captains on the Singur issue, but she had then made clear her pro-farmer and anti-land acquisition stand.
Following Banerjee's party Trinamool Congress' persistent anti-industry and pro-farmer stand, Tata Motors left Singur, 40 km from here, and relocated the small car project to Sanand in Gujarat.