West Bengal Finance Minister Amit Mitra and Ratan Tata were today locked in a verbal spat with the former saying the iconic industrialist may be suffering from "delusion", drawing a sharp response that the politician may be having a "fertile imagination."
The bitter exchanges erupted over some remarks made by Tata in Kolkata yesterday on the pace of industrialisation in the Trinamool Congress-ruled state.
"Tata is getting old and suffering from delusion. I do not know why he cannot understand about what is happening," Mitra told reporters on the sidelines of a CII seminar.
73-year-old Tata, Chairman emeritus of Tata Sons, had remarked that "there are no signs of industrial development in West Bengal" at an interactive session organised by Ladies Study Group of Indian Chamber of Commerce.
Mitra said that Tata group firm TCS was creating additional 20,000 jobs in West Bengal, while Anil Ambani group, Emami were both setting up cement plants in the state.
"Recently, another Tata group firm Tata Metaliks had written to the state seeking expansion of their existing unit," he said.
"Is he not update with the information and why is his own office not briefing him correctly," Mitra said.
"He has the hobby of flying planes and let him fly," he said wryly.
Tata hit back at Mitra and said his anger was needless.
Tata said he never spoke of industrial development in West Bengal but only made some remarks on the basis of what he saw on his drive from Kolkata airport to the city via Rajarhat.
"My comments yesterday referred to my drive from the airport to the Maurya via Rajarhat. I saw lots of residential and commercial development but not much industrial development," the industrialist said on microblogging site Twitter.
He added: "I made no comment about the industrial development in the state. Mr Mitra's comments are therefore surprising."
Apparently voicing displeasure over the remarks of the minister, Tata said: "Mr Mitra might believe that I have 'lost my mind'. I would be delighted if he could show me what industrial development projects I missed while driving through Rajarhat.
If he cannot, then I would have to conclude that he has a very fertile imagination."
WB Urban Development Minister Firhad Hakim also took on the industrialist, saying, "We do not need Tata's certificate on the industrial progress of West Bengal."