Channel: Policy

Tuesday, May 24, 2011
West Bengal CM moves to turn the State around

The State of West Bengal recently witnessed history in the making when Mamta Banerjee took oath as the Chief Minister of the State.


She is the first woman to hold these offices which came about after intense campaigning by her party the Trinamool Congress that pulled a major landslide victory over the Marxist led Communist Party of India (Marxist) ending their 34 year rule in the state.


Popularly referred to as “Didi” or “Elder Sister”, Mamata Banerjee is bringing about some serious fire power to her cabinet to revive the ailing fortunes of the State that has been long left behind by its western and southern competitors in its economic growth.


She has brought in three fluent hands to deliver the economic agenda. These are:

  1. Partha Chatterjee, Minister of Commerce & Industries. Partha was earlier the GM of a public sector undertaking
  2. Manish Gupta, who is now the Minister for Planning and development. Manish was the Chief Secretary of the state in pervious roles.
  3. Dr. Amit Mitra, who is now the Finance Minister and was earlier the head of the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI).


Surprisingly the first main move the Chief Minister made was to invite Mr. Ratan Tata to invest in the state when she herself led an agitation three years ago that forced the Tata group to move its Nano manufacturing plant to the state of Gujarat.


She is also reaching out to the Non-Resident Indians (NRI) many of them who hail from the state’s business/Marwari community or the sizeable Bengali diaspora settled around the world. The efforts would be led by Dr. Amit Mitra and co-ordinated through the establishment of the NRI cell.


Dr. Mitra has also been tasked to come up with a policy to turn the state around which is currently in a deep fiscal crises due to years of purported mismanagement by the predecessor Government.


The fierceness with which she fought and won the campaign can also be seen in her implementation of the task monitoring. Apparently every State Government Department has been told to buckle up and provide weekly reports and daily updates on important subjects of the State. The Chief Minister’s office is also going to keep a tab on the Ministers movements, their attendance in the offices and important meetings and their progress through a system of report cards.


She is also fairly cognizant of the austerity measures she needs to adopt during this difficult period for the State and demonstrated that by choosing to re-decorate her offices with her own personal finances.


The economic progress or rather lack of has been quite damaging for the State of West Bengal. Once a shining beacon of world trade, it fell behind due to the archaic and anachronistic policies of the Communist Government. The new management cadre can make a tremendous difference to the economic future of the state. Kolkata, the State capital, is strategically located for trade routes to the East. West Bengal has been always a gateway to the North-Eastern states. Perhaps it could take a more active role in developing those seven states which may end up helping West Bengal as well.


The Chief Minister has no time to think and ponder and now must get on with her job. She must focus on the more sensitive political underbelly of the State and leave the triumvirate in the Economic and Finance departments to get on with delivering economic growth for the State.

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