West Bengal Chief Minister Ms Mamata Banerjee truncated her visit to London by a day because of the natural calamities in Bengal. That did not stop the 5-day visit to UK from being a success.
As the Chief Minister had said before leaving on July 25, this visit helped a lot in dispelling myths about West Bengal and gave the State an image-makeover.
The delegation to the UK clinched 21 MoUs with the UK in the fields of industry, health, education and urban development.
The agreements were signed during a bilateral meeting with Britain’s Minister of State for Employment and British Prime Minister David Cameron’s Indian Diaspora champion Priti Patel at a reception hosted at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) in London on July 26.
WB CM with delegates at the British Foreign Office
“This is a landmark visit… These MoUs will help bring the UK and West Bengal ever closer, and unleash the potential of our relationship,” Patel said in her address.
“If you say London is the (financial) capital of the world, I say Bengal is the human capital of the world,” WB CM said in her address.
Come to Bengal, Ride the growth
Speaking at a gathering of British and Indian business delegates, organised by the UK India Business Council (UKIBC), the Finance and Industries Minister Dr Amit Mitra assured British investors that the government has taken steps to bring down the labour strikes to zero levels, as it made a strong case for attracting investments.
“We are setting up systems in place. There has been a radical shift since 2010-11, when 7.6 lakh work days were lost [due to labour strikes]. By 2013, the number of working days lost came down to zero. It takes time for mind-sets to change but please come to Bengal and we can assure very clear worker management processes,” he said.
WB CM taking a walk by the Thames
Letter from the UK PM
UK PM David Cameron, who could not be in London because of a foreign visit, sent a letter to West Bengal Chief Minister Ms Mamata Banerjee on Monday apologising for his absence. “I wish you a successful and rewarding visit which will help forge the close ties between UK and Bengal,” reads an excerpt from the letter.
“My message for the British PM is that he must visit Kolkata again soon and see that it is truly the gateway to the east,” WB CM said in response to the letter.
Reception at Buckingham Palace
Mamata Banerjee on Monday became the first chief minister from an Indian state to get an official reception at Buckingham Palace, Britain’s most iconic address. Prince Andrew hosted an evening tea for the Chief Minister at the house of the monarch.
WB CM at Buckingham Palace with Prince Andrew
The Chief Minister had a 40-minute one-on-one interview with Prince Andrew, who described her as “a very dynamic leader, leading a dynamic government, sowing the transformation of Bengal”. The prince, it was learnt, has gifted the chief minister a bag with motifs of Buckingham Palace on it.
WB CM wins hearts at Asia House, UK
The West Bengal Chief Minister invited the members of Asia House, London – the probable investors – to come and scout the State for exploring investment opportunities.
She received a standing ovation from the members of the Asia House who admitted that they were mesmerised by her speech and were glad to know about the investment opportunities in Bengal.
WB CM at Asia House, London
“The state is undergoing a major deregulation drive to make doing business in the state easier, faster and more transparent. Upgrading social infrastructure is running parallel to strengthening industrial infrastructure. Attractive incentive packages and regulations have also been introduced to attract investment,” said a note on the Asia House website.
The London trip got a lot of praise from the media too. Here is an article praising the initiatives of Mamata Banerjee to attract investments for Bengal.