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Buddha promises Bengal the moon

He plans to turns Kolkata into the "jewel of the east", reports Arindam Sarkar.
None | By Arindam Sarkar, Kolkata
UPDATED ON MAR 22, 2006 10:44 PM IST

What should the Bengali bhadralok expect from Buddha babu this time?

A full plate going by the dreams the Left Front is spinning. Chief minister Buddhadev Bhattacharjee has placed a tall order.

He plans to turns Kolkata into the "jewel of the east" by cashing in on the Centre's "Look East" policy.

The past five years have been eventful. He has emerged as the favourite pin-up boy of the Left, showcasing its neo-reform face.

When he took over from grand old patriarch Jyoti Basu — a face that the Bengalis had come to identify with the Bengal CPI-M — in 2001, the doubting Thomases had questioned his ability to deliver.

But five years down the line, the soft-spoken chief minister has a lot to be proud of.

Now, as he braces for a second term, Bengal has hitched all its stars on this understated yet charismatic foot soldier of the Left.

So what's on the menu? A re tail revolution that promises to go full blast.

Shopping malls, food parks, multiplexes, one-stop shopping centers, entertainment zone — you name it and Buddha babu has it up his sleeve. Even US-based Walmart.

But how would the land and river-locked Kolkata cope with this boom? He has a solution lined up. New satellite townships at Rajarhat, Dankuni and West Howrah and an ex- pressway linking Barasat and Diamond Harbour.

But can the penny-wise Kolkatan access the new hotspots. A modern transport system comprising mono rail, a light railway transport system and new fleets of buses will solve the problems.

But where does the moolah come from? Industry, of course. Identified by US consultant Mckinsey & Co. as Bengal's most acceptable brand ambassador, Bhattacharjee will again hold roadshows, address business captains and go abroad to woo investors.

And the health-conscious Bengali can reap the benefits of private-public partnerships in the care sector.

"It's a long wish-list and a lot needs to be done. We have made a good beginning and I am sure the government will make Bengal a state to reckon with," he signs off.

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