File photo: West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee
In a bid for investments, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee is all set to take on Vibrant Gujarat with a Bengal Global Summit of her own.
Vibrant Gujarat, launched by Narendra Modi in 2003 when he was Chief Minister, begins on Sunday, Mamata's began on Tuesday. Her chief guest: Arun Jaitley with whom she has recently crossed swords on the new Goods and Services Tax and the Land Ordinance, which makes it easier for industry and the government to acquire land from farmers. But her right-hand man, Amit Mitra, says government is government and politics, politics. What's more, Mr Mitra says Bengal is ready to compete with Vibrant Gujarat to win investments - foreign and domestic.
"There was no consultation or competition about the timing of the two investor summits," said Dr Mitra, who is West Bengal's finance and industry minister. "Our motto is what Bengal does today, India will do tomorrow. Not just think. We are really doing innovative things. Gujarat is doing its own thing, Rajasthan is doing its own thing, Welcome. In the world of federalism, we all have to attract investment."
But Mr Mitra has his task cut out. He is expecting 1,000 delegates; Gujarat is anticipating 3,000.
As for investments, in 2011, Vibrant Gujrat signed agreements worth 20 lakh crores. In 2013, the figure was 10 lakh crores. The Opposition's grouse is barely 30 per cent of Memorandums of Understanding lead to anything concrete. But 30 per cent of 30 lakh crore is 9 lakh crores - or 9 with 12 zeros behind it.
In Bengal, Dr Mitra is boasting of 83,000 crore rupee investments in three and a half years, which has already been accomplished.
Ms Banerjee and her Gujarat counterpart Anandiben may have never met, but have clearly common targets. Ms Banerjee's task is considerably tougher. The Prime Minister is not from her state, nor her predecessor.