In conversation with

Partha Chatterjee
Hon'ble Minister of Parliamentary Affairs, Information Technology and Electronics

The members of the AITMC Web Team had a talk with Mr. Partha Chatterjee, Hon’ble Minister of Parliamentary Affairs, Information Technology and Electronics, Government of West Bengal. The Minister, who is rarely at leisure, gave some of his valued time to answer the queries.

You have just returned from the districts after being a Minister. How was the experience?

Commendable! That is the word. After going to these districts I can say that such trips are more of an awareness campaign, there are so many aspects that we have discussed both with administration and common people and believe me it has helped us to understand the situation. It was a Three-level meeting – With DM, SDO and BDO. The CM inspired those who are concerned with the development. We interacted with each BDO, pointed out what is needed. I could feel that the initiative taken by Mamata Banerjee to reach out to people in these districts has infused confidence among them as they never experienced something of the sort in past 34-years of Left rule. It is true that we do not have the necessary financial support but we do have the willpower.

How was the reaction among the administrative officials to see CM reaching out to districts taking such pain?

Absolutely, they were surprised to witness something of the sort as nobody had this initiative in past regime. I would say this is a collective initiative and will require a team work. In fact, it was an interactive session and BDOs too came up with problems and CM gave a patient hearing trying to suggest measures to make the working smooth and effective. She has divided the work structure into a three-level-module comprising of District Magistrate, Sub-Divisional-Officer and Block Development Officer which will be supervised by the concerned ministers. In another word it is like an on job training.

What difference do you feel between entering the Writers’ Building when you were in the opposition and now when you command the house?

If you ask me then the experience between then and now, I would say it’s very difficult to comment since I have never been to Writers’ Building on regular basis. In fact, on the few occasions, I went there, as a leader of the opposition party, I was turned out of the secretariat by then ruling party. Well, I would say that the job is more administrative now rather than mere political.

Maa – Mati – Manush government has completed 150 successful days in government, moving towards completing 200 days. How do you analyze the journey?

Indeed, this is just the beginning; this is a long journey and miles to go before we can say we have achieved something. The situation was different when we took office. The previous government did nothing on the development front which initially left us a bit confused wondering which string to pull. We had to gather all the recourses and plan accordingly and begin from the scratch. I have no hesitation in accepting that the main driving force behind us was Ms. Mamata Banerjee, our leader, who gave us leadership. It’s her inspiration and result of a team-work that enabled us to achieve this much. We have faced all type of challenges including natural calamities; it was Ms. Mamata Banerjee again who took the initiative to reach out to the poor people across North Bengal and even Sikkim. On the health front too, if you may recall it was the CM who carried out surprise visits to different hospitals trying to ascertain situation. We are now on the E-governance platform. Even the problems across Hills and Jangalmahal were addressed. I guess this is a good report card for a government which is yet to complete 200 days in office.

Do you feel your corporate background has helped as a politician?

My alma mater is Narendrapur RK Mission and then Asutosh College, where I studied Economics. I was involved in student politics, became General Secretary of the Students Union and then the President. That is where I met Ms Mamata Banerjee. I became district President. Then I moved on to corporate sector, where the job was absolutely administrative. In political sphere, the work is more organizational. In corporate sphere, I had to deal with human resource which was within a span of control, but, in political sphere there is the human resource, but, the picture is completely different.

Recently, in a meeting you suggested the need to have talent pool` in order to generate employment in the tertiary sector? Indeed a commendable initiative and you deserve a compliment.

Thank you, this was not my finding though, the study was conducted by the National Skill Development Authority which suggested that industry should furnish details on the requirements in the industry. The problem is as I sighted an example, we have more mechanical engineers coming out of the institutes but our requirement is for civil engineers. We have worked out a module in shape of a document to be filled by the industries. We have added a new clause of `what is the nature of skill requirement in the said industry along with the other details like balance sheet, study report, project report, investment etc. After this we will be able to evaluate the ground realities.

Indeed a nice initiative, but how do you see the response among the industry players?

I would say they too have identified this problem and accepted the proposal. We have given them a three-year timeframe. I am hopeful that this will solve the employment problem in skilled sector to a larger extent.

You are planning to create IT Hubs across districts in Paschimbanga. How do you see the progress going on?

The idea is to employ people residing in the respective districts rather than employing people from Hyderabad and Bangalore as this will be cost effective. We are trying to reach out to people as our leader has instructed. After Kolkata we are building IT Hubs across districts but as a general practice those residing outside are opting for jobs in these hubs which will deprive the locals of the opportunity for whom these are constructed at the initial place. I want to make this clear that these hubs in districts are made to accommodate the locals residing with close proximity to these places. Hence, those who are residing we have decided to notify this clause.

Why did the government decide to clear an ordinance to stop political interference across 13 universities?

This was not done overnight, Mamata Banerjee was always vocal against the dirty politics being infused among the students in the educational institutes. We appreciate awareness for politics among students but don’t support these seats of learning being transformed into political arena.

You are MLA from Behala (West), there has been developments in your constituency. What is more in store?

We are taking various projects to develop Behala into a developed constituency. Tilottama would be the word. We are already in talks with various organizations in this regard. I am sure people of Behala will agree that things have changed a lot over the years which was indeed grave a couple of years ago when various anti social elements were active in the area. The bringing of Kolkata Police is another initiative which has worked miracle especially in curbing the traffic hazards. We are also planning to extend Sarsuna Road. We are planning to construct a diagnostic centre, Nursing College, Stadium. We are looking in to the development of the Behala Industrial center. There are plans to set up an ITI and an IT Hub at Behala as well.

The Metro between Joka and BBD Bagh is indeed a commendable initiative. What do you feel?

I can tell you that the work is now taking place at a fast pace and you will be happy to know that 35 pillars are already erected and soon the initial work will be complete. The traffic on the DH Road will ease once the Metro starts functioning.

Your message to the party activists –

I will only tell them that our party is the party of Maa-Mati-Manush and I have no hesitation in saying that the face of our party is Mamata Banerjee. Her life, her struggle should be the philosophy for all those who support and work for Trinamool Congress. Not just as a leader but it’s her vision which is reflected in Trinamool Congress. She has worked very hard over the years to take her party at this level and it’s the duty of a party member to appreciate this endeavor. Those associated with the party must understand this and respect the policies laid down by the party. However, I don’t think that they are required to tell of the consequences if they don’t abide by the party strictures.

Partha Chatterjee