A never-before stress on large scale industrial development by the less developed states has been on the rise for the last few years. Bihar, Bengal and Orissa were at the forefront of discussions and criticisms. While the Bihar government had changed hands over the issue of development and reduction of corruption, Bengal and Orissa had embarked on a fresh effort to stand at par with the developed states.
Orissa Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik’s urge for greater industrialisation, amidst resistance from every possible quarter, rises comparisons with the similar attempts of one of his neighbouring CMs — Buddhadeb Bhatatcharjee. Desperate to revamp Bengal’s non-industrial friendly image and spare the CPI (M) from shouldering the blame of shooing away industrialists since the early 70s, Bhattacharyya had embarked on an ambitious industrial expansion plan. What followed was the rise of anti-CPI (M) movements in rural as well as urban Bengal, frequent bloody clashes between the police and protesting farmers, criticisms by the party high command and a breakdown of Bhattacharjee’s dream of seeing the world’s cheapest car roll out of Singur.
The Orissa CM had similarly been countered by the judiciary, union government, Union Ministry of Environment, the Opposition Congress and almost everyone else. Accusations of ignoring serious environmental concerns, issuing permits for illegal mining and unlawful land allotments -the list is long and certainly harmful for Naveen Patnaik’s image.
Till date, the maximum benefit from Bengal government’s industrial policy was reaped by the opposition Trinamool Congress. One can only hope that the state of Orissa has better luck.