Kolkata: Prime Minister Narendra Modi Thursday said there’s a need to revive the manufacturing sector in West Bengal and that Kolkata, the state capital, can again become the ‘leader of the East’.
During his virtual address at the annual plenary of the Indian Chamber of Commerce (ICC), Modi said Kolkata can again lead the industrial resurgence of eastern India and also stressed on Bengal’s supremacy by quoting social reformer Gopal Krishna Gokhale’s famous saying — ‘What Bengal thinks today, India thinks tomorrow’.
“We should take inspiration from this to go forward,” he said.
The ICC has its headquarters in Kolkata.
At the end of his speech, the PM even recited a few lines from Rabindranath Tagore’s song, ‘Nuton Juger Bhore’ (the dawn of a new era) — ‘Cholay cholay bajbe joyer bheri, paayer begei path kete jaye, koris ne aar deri’ (As you start walking, it will blow the winning trumpet, distance gets covered as you walk, do not delay more).
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Pitch for ‘atma nirbhar’ Bengal
Stressing on the much-needed revival of the manufacturing sector in Bengal, Modi said Kolkata can become the hub of the east and north-eastern businesses.
“This is not the time for conservative decisions. It is the time for bold measures and bold investments,” he said.
Claiming Bengal’s jute industry can reap maximum benefits from the Centre’s single-use plastic ban, the PM said: “Jute industry can walk on its path of revival. All of you will be proud to see when the whole country will carry bags made of jute in Bengal.”
He also added: “Indian economy has to shun a command and control approach, and move towards plug-and-play models.”
Modi also invoked Swami Vivekananda while stressing on the need of being self-reliant and curbing imports.
“The simplest method to be worked upon at present is to induce Indians to use their own produce and get markets for Indian artware in other countries,” Modi said, quoting Vivekananda.
The pitch for a self-reliant India has to be realised by setting up “globally competitive supply chains” and industry captains have to “bring all stakeholders on board” and also “hand-hold them” if required, the PM said.
He then drew the ICC’s attention to Bengal’s handicraft business and self-help groups. He urged the ICC to ‘hand hold’ such groups.
“This is the right time to set up a globally competitive domestic supply chain. Industry has to step up to the challenges, bring on board all stakeholders, hand-hold them if required and also ensure there is value-addition,” Modi said.
‘Part of BJP’s election preparations’
According to political observers, Modi’s speech is in line with Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s attempt at invoking Bangla pride.
“To me, the PM’s speech is a continuation of Amit Shah’s election speech on 9 June. The PM’s speech is for his party’s acceptability in the state. The more Mamata Banerjee tries to instill Bangla pride, the more we will see Modi quoting Tagore and Swamiji (Swami Vivekananda). This speech should not be seen in isolation. They have made the state their prime focus,” said political analyst, professor Biswanath Chakraborty.
“Day before yesterday, during the virtual address, Amit Shah said he did not get the joy by winning 303 seats in the country in the way he got it by winning 18 seats in Bengal. This is a straightforward approach. Addressing the ICC is also part of BJP’s election preparation. The revival of jute industry and pitching Kolkata as the leader of the East are also his messages of development for Bengalis,” he added.
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