by Arup Chanda
KOLKATA, India, May 8 (Xinhua) -- When she visited the eastern Indian state of West Bengal Sunday and Monday, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton meant business and assured that American businessmen will have investments in West Bengal.
During their meeting on Monday, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said Clinton assured her of American investment in the state for its business and economic development, considering Bengal as a "partner state".
With the sagging economy in the U.S., a 90 million population in West Bengal will certainly help U.S. trading firms to bolster their business in this east Indian state.
Mamata Banerjee said "The U.S. will invest in West Bengal as a partner state. For a long time, there has not been any U.S. investment in the state. After the change in political scenario, they said that the U.S. would favor investment in Bengal."
Banerjee said Clinton has expressed the U.S. desire to invest in West Bengal as the state has witnessed a change in its " political scenario" after decades. She said she also urged Clinton to consider American investments in the state's software, IT and manufacturing, health and education sectors.
Banerjee said state Chief Secretary Samar Ghosh and U.S. Ambassador to India Nancy Powell would coordinate between themselves and jointly monitor the projects, which would be set up under public-private-partnership (PPP) mode.
"We have formed a small group. Ghosh and Powell will coordinate between themselves and monitor the implementation of the projects," she said.
"We only discussed developmental issues. Strategic issues we did not discuss. Teesta and FDI did not come up in the meeting. There issues were never raised," she stated.
There was speculations in the political circles that Teesta water sharing with Bangladesh and Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in multi-brand retail would be discussed in the Clinton-Banerjee meet. The Trinamool is strictly opposing foreign investment in retail, while the chief minister had opted out of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's Dhaka trip last year, leading to the agreement on water sharing being dropped.
After the meeting, the chief minister said she was "very delighted" as the talks with Clinton had been "positive, constructive, creative and concrete".
Informing that the secretary of state appreciated her for implementation of different development programs after coming to power in the state, the chief minister said she has assured her of U.S. government's support in the business and economic development of the state, which was facing a severe debt crisis.
"She hailed us for coming to power in the state with huge support and changing the political scenario. She also appreciated our implementation of programmes in mission mode," Banerjee said.