'Didi' follows in Modi's footsteps; Invites Maruti Suzuki to set-up plant in West Bengal

author image CarTrade Editorial Team
Saturday 04 August 2012, 01:29 AM

Just four years back, in 2008, Tata Motors was forced to pull out from West Bengal after it had already started with the construction work of the manufacturing plant for its ambitious 'cheapest car in the world' project, Nano in Singur. This was in response to a protest led by Mamata Banerjee ('didi'), who had demanded that the 400 acres of the land allotted to the company should be returned to the farmers who had been forced to part with their lands, against their will. The whole fiasco left a bitter taste for both the West Bengal government and the Tata company. The latter found solace in Narendra Modi's Gujarat where it was offered to set up its base following the Singur debacle. The car maker has been manufacturing the Nano from Sanand ever since.

History repeats itself and sometimes in the most unexpected ways. Four years have passed since the incident, and Mamata Banerjee has come to power as the Chief Minister of West Bengal. The latest reports suggest that she is now trying to go the 'Modi-way'. The recent violent conflict at the Manesar plant of the country's leading car maker, which claimed the life of one senior HR official has opened the window for other states to lure the car maker into shifting base to their respective states. The first in the row was Gujarat's Chief Minister, Narendra Modi, who went on to visit the top officials of the parent company, Suzuki Motor Corporation at their Hamamatsu Headquarters, on a five day trip. The sole purpose of his visit was to cash in on the Manesar fiasco and extend an open invitation to the majority stake holder company to invest in shifting its base to Gujarat.

While on his trip to Japan, Modi strongly condemned the violence at the Manesar plant and went on to say that such incidents should not happen anywhere in the world. He said, “Anywhere it should not happen. Human safety is the priority and I do feel (for) those who have lost their lives.” However, Gujarat government has maintained that it is not trying to benefit from the unfortunate incident at Manesar and has full confidence in Haryana government to handle the situation.

Close on his heels, Chief Minister, West Bengal, Mamata Banerjee extended an invitation to the top management of Maruti Suzuki India Limited (MSIL) to invest in the state. This move from Banerjee is identical to the one adopted by Narendra Modi to lure the Tata Motors in 2008. A point worth noting here is that ever since Mamata Banerjee became the CM, the state government has been struggling to get top companies to invest in the state, but in vain. However, things seem to be changing lately; this is apparent now as the CM has acted promptly to take optimum advantage of the situation and has invited MSIL to set-up base in West Bengal. She should know, however, that the feat would not be easy since the strategy master, Modi has already met the company officials inviting them to shift their entire operations to Gujarat.

Commerce and Industry Minister, West Bengal, Partha Chatterjee, said, “We have just mailed a letter to Maruti Suzuki chairman RC Bhargava and its chief operating officer (administration) SY Siddiqui to explore the possibility of investing in the state. We have promised to provide them good work culture and the right kind of atmosphere needed to develop a plant.”

If, by some stroke of luck, MSIL does decide to invest in the state, it will definitely boost the economy of the state by building investors' confidence and thus, luring in more investments from other companies. It would be worth watching how 'Didi' manages to outpace Modi this time.

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