‘Powerful Hillary, influential Mamata’s meet significant’

Kolkata, April 30: US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s proposed meeting with West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, coming soon after the latter was named one of the world’s most influential people by the prestigious Time magazine, may help in removing the adverse feelings that exist in the state about American policies, say analysts. It may also result in increased American investment.

Banerjee’s Trinamool Congress, the second largest partner in the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) central government, has blocked quite a few economic reform initiatives, especially the FDI in multi-brand retail. In that respect, the Clinton-Banerjee dialogue is of utmost significance.

Clinton, who will visit Bangladesh, will stop over in Kolkata next week and the proposed talks with Banerjee are scheduled for May 7.

“FDI has to be on the agenda during the meet and with the American economy going through a bad phase, economic reforms carried by India are likely to impact the global economy especially America’s,” said political analyst Sabyasachi Roychowdhury.

Economist Bipul Malakar feels the visit will provide Clinton an opportunity to clear certain misconceptions people have about America and its policies.

“To a large extent that too inexplicably, people of the state have an adverse feeling towards America and its policies. This visit surely provides an opportunity to Clinton to address the peculiar issue and ally all fears. The visit is likely to yield not only political but also economical benefits,” he said.

Some feel the visit may lead to increase in potential American investment in the state.

“She (Clinton) is expected to be accompanied by a business entourage. She would not only be meeting policy makers or politicians but also people from the industry. Some pacts or collaborations are bound to happen,” regional director of Indo-American Chamber of Commerce, Madhusree Daityari said.

Roychowdhury agreed.

“The visit may lead to increase in potential American investment at least it can spruce up the stocks. This certainly would be good opportunity to discuss potential investment in the state in fields like information technology or biotech where the land requirement is comparatively lesser,” he said.

US Ambassador to India Nancy J Powell who Monday met Banerjee said she (Powell) was looking forward to Clinton’s visit.

“I am looking forward to welcoming Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to Kolkata next week. I think this visit will be an opportunity for her to see firsthand how much this city and Eastern India have transformed and what a bright future lies ahead,” she said after the meet.

At the national level, the strategic importance of Cinton’s tour was not lost on experts.

“Clinton’s India visit carries strategic importance as it comes weeks before the US-India Strategic Dialogue in Washington co-chaired by her and External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna as also the Barack Obama administration is on its way out and facing elections,” Roychowdhury said.

IANS