External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee kicked off his election campaign on Saturday from his parliamentary constituency of Jangipur in Murshidabad district.
Mukherjee was there to attend a programme of the Small Industries Development Bank of India (SIDBI),during which the bank announced loans for 125 self-help groups (SHG) in Jangipur.
The minister,who has been talking tough on Pakistan following the 26/11 terror attacks in Mumbai,avoided any reference to the Indo-Pak relations,choosing instead to concentrate on rural development and effects of the global economic crisis.
The government has decided to implement the rural industrialisation programme to combat the effects of the global recession. The recession in Europe and the US has hit the Indian economy,but Indias condition is not as bad as that of the West, he said. Due to lack of demand brought on by the recession,however,the Indian garment industry as well as the gems and jewellery industry have been more affected than the others. A lot of people have lost their jobs in these industries. To combat the situation,rural industrialisation is needed, added Mukherjee.
He had won from this constituency in 2004 by defeating his CPM rival by 35,000 votes.
Murshidabad is a backward district and a lot of work needs to be done to give a boost to rural industrialisation, the minister said.
At the end of the programme,during which Mukherjee handed out the loans to the SHGs,he quipped: Next time,I will come to ask you for your vote.