A day after Hero Group joint managing director Sunil Munjal walked out of a meeting of industry captains with West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee, business lobbies today urged the state government to soften its stand towards industries and improve the state's image by bringing the Tatas back to Singur.
This comes close on the heels of Tata Group chairman Ratan Tata's remarks that Tata Motors Ltd's retreat from Singur was a "great disappointment" and the group could still return to West Bengal. Tata Motors, the country's largest vehicles maker, had set up a plant in Singur to produce the Nano car. But the company moved the factory out of West Bengal to Gujarat's Sanand in 2008, amid opposition from locals over land acquisition.
The Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (Assocham) is planning to write a letter to the chief minister, asking her to bring back the Tatas. The Bengal Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) are also looking forward to a settlement with the Tatas.
"It will be a big boost for Bengal's industry, as the state's image can only be regained by the comeback of the Tatas," Assocham secretary general D S Rawat said:
On Monday, Hero Group's Munjal walked out of the industry meet organised by Banerjee--in which 42 chief executive officers and chairmen and managing directors participated, over a cold response from the chief minister on his comments on foreign direct investment (FDI) in retail. Following the event, a visibly miffed Munjal is understood to have said his firm had no plans to invest in West Bengal.
However, the state government tried to play down the incident. "There is no industry by Munjal in Bengal. So we are not taking his comments on FDI seriously," said Saugata Roy, a Trinamool Congress parliamentarian and an aide of Banerjee.
Regarding Tata's remark, he said: "As of now, we are not having any discussions with Tatas on Singur on an out-of-court settlement." The state government and the Tata Group are now locked in a legal battle over the ownership of 400 acres of land in Singur.
Bengal Chamber president Kallol Datta wants an out-of-court settlement on the Singur issue. "The state should initiate talks with Tatas and look for an out-of-court settlement," Datta said.
Hinting at a comeback to Singur, Tata told the media: "Need not be Tata Motors. We have until the court decides this, the plant is still there. Whether it is Tata Motors or something else."