Kolkata– Former Lok Sabha Speaker Somnath Chatterjee had played “a critical and important role” as the Chairman of the West Bengal Industrial Development Corporation and he performed “onerous task of regaining investors’ confidence” for promotion of industries in the state, said industrialists on Monday.

Somnath Chatterjee (Photo: wikipedia)

“He had a very critical and important role to play because for the first time the then Jyoti Basu government (then Left Front government) came out with an industrial policy probably in 1994 and he was made Chairman of the West Bengal Industrial Development Corporation at that time to take forward the industrialisation of the state,” said Chairman of the Ambuja Neotia Group’s Chairman Harshavardhan Neotia.

“It was a major shift in the policy. I had the privilege travelling with him to many countries,” said Neotia.

He was a passionate leader who wanted to showcase opportunities in Bengal, he said.

“I think he created a positive atmosphere which was subsequently built on by others. He had brought a lot of energy and enthusiasm in the promotion of industries in the state,” he told IANS.

The 10-time parliamentarian was the Chairman of the nodal agency for industrial development in the state and visited many countries to promote the state as an attractive investment destination.

R.P. Sanjiv Goenka Group’s Chairman Sanjiv Goenka described the demise of Chatterjee as the “end of an era.”

“The passing away of Somnath Chatterjee snaps a family tie which began many years ago when my father, the late Rama Prasad Goenka, studied in Presidency College. An outstanding lawyer, a legendary parliamentarian and an ardent lover of his country, Chatterjee will be remembered for the sacrifices he made,” Goenka said.

Echoing Neotia, Merchants’ Chamber of Commerce & Industry President Ramesh Agarwal said Chatterjee was “entrusted the challenging task of reviving industrialisationa in West Bengal when the “state was struggling an image crisis in the mid-1990s and a flight of entrepreneurial capital.”

“He contributed significantly to drafting the state industrial policy, 1994. As the Chairman of WBIDC, he performed the onerous task of regaining investors’ confidence as he enjoyed the confidence of the business community despite his known political affiliation,” Agarwal said.

Expressing condolences, CII’s Director General Chandrajit Banerjee said: “We have lost not only a brilliant lawyer, politician, and a Parliamentarian, but also a statesman.”

He also said the industry body interacted with him closely in West Bengal and later, on many areas which he was passionate about, viz promoting sustainability in industry, robust water management and a vision for India.

Chatterjee died at 8.15 a.m at the Bellevue Clinic, where he was admitted on August 7. (IANS)