The Opposition, as it is expected, has mocked Banerjee's Singapore visit, saying it is nothing more than a eyewash.
If Banerjee has indeed embarked on a long-term mission to link Kolkata with South-east Asia, then it is definitely a cause worth appreciating. For the capital of West Bengal has a huge potential to grow into the gateway to South-east Asia.Sushma Swaraj, then Mamata Banerjee: Both for cooperation but why no coordination on Singapore policy?
However, there is a question. The foreign minister of India, Sushma Swaraj, was also at Singapore two days ahead of Banerjee's visit and spoke to the authorities there about cooperation under the 100 smart cities project. She also met Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.
Why no serious thought on Look East Policy together?
If the Indian establishment is giving a serious thinking to the Look East Policy which India's foreign policy think-tank has been stressing for some time now, then why aren't the Centre and West Bengal government giving it a push together to make it more comprehensive and effective?
Even if Mamata brings investment from Singapore, is there a proper land policy?
Banerjee's visit looks more of a holiday trip for there is only one day of business talks. The chief minister told the media before her visit that she would try her best to attract investment from Singapore while her finance minister Amit Mitra already issued a disclaimer that this visit is aimed at a long-term relation between Kolkata and Singapore. A team of officials left for Singapore ahead of the CM to ensure that the schedule goes smoothly.
It's irony that Mamata meets Singapore PM ahead of the Indian PM
It is an irony that the chief minister will meet the prime minister of Singapore before the prime minister of her own country. It is true that the constituent states of the Indian federation are becoming more ambitious nowadays and the Centre is not as influential as it was in the past in economic aspects (which necessitates the scrapping of a body like the Planning Commission) but in case of Banerjee's Singapore visit, a coordination between the Centre and state could have felicitated the cause of India's Look East Policy.Mamata could have approached Singapore from a national point of view for it involves a lot of thingsHad Banerjee met Prime Minister Narendra Modi soon after the latter came to power in Delhi and the two worked together on a blueprint on improving ties with the Southeast by making Kolkata the base, the end result would have been much more positive. Modi had even said in one of his pre-poll television interviews that the weakening of Kolkata is causing a big loss to eastern and north-eastern India. Here was a chance to progress towards that direction. But in our country, petty politics is a big divider.
Even if tons of projects come to Bengal, is there a land policy to back it up?
Not all will be convinced till Banerjee really succeeds in bringing investment to the state. In the past, chief ministers like Jyoti Basu (over 20 times) and Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee (once to Indonesia) also embarked on similar missions but nothing much happened in the state which has only gone backward. People still remember how Bhattacharjee's dream projects in Singur and Nandigram boomeranged to the state's massive loss few years ago. Even if Banerjee can draw investment from Singapore, is there any robust land policy in place to back it up?
Is Singapore visit a ploy to divert the attention from the Saradha scam?
One feels there was a lack of homework on the state government's behalf before the CM's visit to Singapore. May be this is more of a mission to divert attention from the Saradha chit fund scam which is gradually engulfing the ruling party in Bengal. Or it might also be a strategy to project Banerjee as an investment-friendly administrator, just like Narendra Modi, ahead of the prestige battle of 2016 against the BJP.
Or may be this trip is more for attracting investment in the film and entertainment sector for the current chief minister of Bengal attaches a lot of importance to the said sector and those who earn from it. All probabilities ultimately point at one thing: a victory in the 2016 assembly polls.
But whoever is laying out the plan, he/she must understand that Bengal's economy requires an urgent treatment for survival. If the Singapore visit is just a holiday junket, then all the strategy-making for the 2016 assembly election will ultimately fall flat.