Kolkata: The Congress in West Bengal is set for an "all-out political attack" on the Trinamool Congress by launching a campaign focussed on the all-round benefits of foreign investment in multi-brand retail and was ready to play the role of an opposition against the Mamata Banerjee-led state government.
Terming the Trinamool chief's staunch opposition to foreign direct investment in retail as a customary practice of the West Bengal government, state Congress chief Pradip Bhattacharya said that "whenever something new is introduced then those in the government try to block it in Bengal".
"During the preceding Left Front regime when computer was introduced, the state government opposed it, while Karnataka gained from it. Later, the Left Front government tried to rope in IT investments. Trinamool will also one day support FDI," Bhattacharya told IANS in an interview.
"When foreign investment would start flowing in other states, the people would see its benefits and pitch for FDI in the retail sector."
Bhattacharya said that big players could capture hardly 40 percent of the retail market in India even if they gained access to all the states.
"Not a single small businessman will be eliminated from the market because of this. The economic situation of farmers will improve," he said.
"We will bring up these issues before the people and tell them what Mamata is saying is wrong."
Trinamool withdrew its support to the United Progressive Alliance government on issues like FDI in retail, diesel price hike and cap on number of subsidised cooking gas cylinders, saying the decisions would hurt the country.
Bhattacharya, however, says that "people don't understand what FDI in multi-brand is".
"The retail trade in the state has gone up by 10 percent after big Indian companies like Spencer's and Reliance Fresh came to the market. How many people know that".
"How many people use cooking gas in villages or have an understanding of FDI?" he asked, saying Trinamood was misleading common people with their misinformed propaganda.
The state Congress chief said the party was ready to "play the role of an opposition".
"We will point out the mistakes of the ruling party and start a mass agitation. We will oppose the wrong bills brought by the government in the assembly," he said.
Bhattacharya said the regime has "completely failed" on the law and order front. Besides, crimes against women have gone up. "The police are not allowed to function impartially. The Trinamool is trying to control the police," he said.
Flaying the land acquisition policy of the government, the Congress leader said, "This will make it very difficult for them to woo investment. The land acquisition policy should be changed immediately, as it will hurt the developmental work in the state."
Rubbishing the government's claim of drawing huge investments to West Bengal, he demanded a white paper on the investment made in the state after the Trinamool took charge.
At the same time he lauded the state government for its handling of the situation in Darjeeling and the Maoist-affected western districts.
But despite the Congress being at loggerheads with the Trinamool, Bhattacharya ruled out any floor coordination with the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) in the state assembly. "Our fight is as much against the CPI-M as against the Trinamool," he said.
On the Congress rejoining forces with the Trinamool in future, Bhattacharya said: "It is impossible to make such predictions in politics. In the given situation, there is no chance of the two parties coming close," he said.
(Pradipta Tapadar and Sirshendu Panth can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com)