PM takes on LF, calls for change in West Bengal

Taking on the Left Front in its own backyard for its "overall failure", Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Saturday expressed concern over the law and order situation in West Bengal and called for a political change by ousting the Front and electing the Congress-Trinamool Congress alliance.

Last Updated: Apr 23, 2011, 19:04 PM IST

Kolkata: Taking on the Left Front in its own
backyard for its "overall failure", Prime Minister Manmohan
Singh on Saturday expressed concern over the law and order situation
in West Bengal and called for a political change by ousting
the Front and electing the Congress-Trinamool Congress
alliance.

Addressing a joint campaign with Trinamool Congress
supremo Mamata Banerjee at Dum Dum before the third phase of
Assembly elections in the state, he said, "The law and order
situation in the state is a matter of grave concern.
"The Centre has to deploy forces in places like (Maoist
dominated) Jhargram to keep the situation under control,"
Singh said.

He said if the Congress-Trinamool Congress combine came to
power after the elections, its first task would be to bring
peace and all-round development, the Prime Minister said.

"You gave the Left Front 34 years to rule. Over this
period, the chariot of the administration has come to a halt.
The government has no concrete policy about agriculture and
industry. It has no clear vision for the future. Now is the
time for a change," he said.

Amid applause from the audience, the Prime Minister said
Congress president Sonia Gandhi had dispatched him with a
message to the people to elect the Congress-Trinamool Congress
government in Bengal.

Dum Dum, regarded as a Left stronghold, would witness a
fight between playwright Bartya Basu of Trinamool Congress
and CPI(M) star campaigner and Housing minister Goutam Deb.

The joint campaign, where Union Finance Minister Pranab
Mukherjee was also present, was aimed at boosting the
prospects of the alliance.

Singh addressed another election rally at Katwa in Burdwan
district earlier in the day in support of the alliance.

The Prime Minister said it was "unfortunate" that the
state government had failed to utilise central funds for
schemes like MNREGA, National Rural Health Scheme, Sarva
Siksha Abhiyan, the Mid-Day Meal Scheme and the PMGSY.

"The Left Front accuses the Centre of discrimination
against the state, but it cannot spend Central funds. It must
be pondered why the state government cannot use the funds sent
by the Centre," he said.

Noting that West Bengal has slipped from its
pre-eminent position in industry and was now lagging behind in
many states, he said that the manufacturing, tea and tourism
industries were in bad shape.
"The Left Front government has lost the confidence of
the people and investors. How can the youth be given
employment without infusion of investment?" he said.

Referring to the Sachar Committee report which
indicates that Muslims in West Bengal were among the worst off
in the country, the Prime Minister said that members of the
community in Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Gujarat and Assam had
better representation in government jobs than those in West
Bengal.

"The Left Front government is responsible for this,"
he said.

Lamenting the fall in the standard of education in
Bengal, the Prime Minister quoted the latest census report to
say that even small states like Manipur and Nagaland were
ahead of Bengal in literacy.

"A change is necessary. If the Congress-Trinamool
Congress alliance is voted to power, it will take steps in
improving education, health and employment opportunities,"
Singh said.

The Prime Minister, who described Finance Minister
Pranab Mukherjee as a very senior leader and a great help in
running the Union Government, also had a word of praise for
Railway Minister Mamata Banerjee, saying that she was doing
very good work for the people of Bengal.

PTI