Tatas welcome back to Bengal – Mamata Bannerjee

Newly appointed chief minister of West Bengal Mamata Bannerjee has rolled out the red carpet for India’s biggest industrial house, the Tatas.

She, however, stuck to her pre-election stand and promised again to redistribute the 400 of the 1000 acres of land given to the Tata Nano factory back to the farmers. Tatas are free to set up the factory on the remaining 600 acres, she said.

“If the Tatas want to come back, they are welcome to,” she said right at the beginning of her first press conference as the CM of West Bengal.

The move marks a U-turn for the mercurial leader, who rose to prominence and built up much of her goodwill by vehemently fighting against the Tatas barely two years ago. It also highlights her dilemma at having to balance the priorities of economic development with her own past as a anti-big industry agitator. Mamata is expected to move more and more away from her leftist ideology towards the Centre.

Her extreme-left ideology and agitation against the Tata’s mega plant in Singur was the single bigger factor in her subsequent rise to popularity and resounding success in the Assembly polls.

Many had predicted her mood to change once she was back in power, as her opposition to the factory was seen primarily as a way to grab the headlines and sympathy of the people.

The Tata plant was to be one of the first milestones in the former Left government’s move towards a centrist philosophy that sought to attract big industry and create jobs in the state.