Sonia promises development in Bengal if alliance wins

Promising that the Congress-Trinamool alliance would make West Bengal an advanced state if it was elected to power, Congress president said the Left Front in its 34-year rule had made the state backward in every respect.

Last Updated: Apr 15, 2011, 22:19 PM IST

Jalpaiguri/Malda: Promising that the
Congress-Trinamool alliance would make West Bengal an advanced
state if it was elected to power, Congress president Sonia
Gandhi on Friday said the Left Front in its 34-year rule had
made the state backward in every respect.

"The Left Front government owes an explanation to the
people why the state, which was one of the most advanced
states at the time it took over in 1977, became a backward
state," Gandhi said addressing several election rallies in
north Bengal which goes to poll on April 18.

She said the Centre had given crores of rupees to the
state government under various development schemes, but a
major part of the amount went back to the Centre unutilised.

She said if the central funds had been used properly,
things would not have come to such a pass.

She claimed that never had a government at the Centre
given so much money to the states for implementing development
schemes as the Manmohan Singh government had.

Asking voters to bring new custodians of the Writers`
Buildings (state secretariat,) Gandhi said the public
distribution system has practically collapsed in the state,
law and order is in a very bad shape and health and education
are in a mess.

Some districts in West Bengal are among the most backward
in the country and many places lack proper irrigation
facilities, with one-third of the people having no access to
drinking water, she claimed.

She accused the state government of discrimination in
implementing development schemes, keeping out those areas
where Congress has influence.

She said all the LF government had done in the 34-year
rule was selling dreams to the people.

It has even failed to prepare a list of people below
poverty line (BPL) in the state. If the BPL list had been
prepared properly, lakhs of people would have benefited from
it, the Congress president felt.

On the other hand, Gandhi said, the amount of work done by
the Congress-led government at the Centre for all classes of
people had not been done in the past by any non-Congress
government.

Gandhi said the Centre had initiated many pro-poor schemes
like MNREGA and Bharat Nirman, besides bringing workers in the
unorganised sector under insurance cover.

While the salaries of Anganwadi workers have been doubled,
the Centre has also raised the reservation limit for women
from 33 per cent to 50 per cent in the municipalities and
civic bodies, she said.

She promised that the alliance government would not
discriminate against anybody on the basis of one`s political
affiliation.

Speaking at the same meeting, senior Congress leader
Pranab Mukherjee said the people of the state want a change.

"Bengal had seen a lot of development when Congress
leader B C Roy was at the helm of affairs in the state, but
after the LF came to power there has been no development,
only decline," Mukherjee said.

Gandhi held meetings at Jalpaiguri town in Jalpaiguri
district and Ratua English Bazar in Malda district.

PTI