April 25, 2009 3:33:15 pm
“Rajiv Gandhi had once said Kolkata was a dying city. And you remember what happened (in elections) after that. Now his son is echoing similar things about Bengal.”
The comments came from CPI(M) leader Sitaram Yechury when he was asked to respond to Rahul Gandhi’s criticism of the performance of the Left Front government in West Bengal. He said the Left had swept to power after Rajiv’s remarks then.
Noting that everyone has a right to have their own opinion and “so does Rahul”,the Left leader said the fact that the people of Bengal have elected the Left seven times in a row “merits a re-thinking” among the critics.
“Why are the people continuing to impose faith in the Left. If you say they are doing so for the wrong reasons,then it tantamount to insulting the people of Bengal,” he said.
Observing that seven assembly elections implied that three generations had voted the Left to power,Yechury said the yardstick in a democracy should be the people’s response to the performance of the government in elections.
Regarding the economic situation in the state,Yechury said while Deputy Chairman of Planning Commission Montek Singh Ahluwalia in a study on states’ performances had ranked Bengal among the top three,World Bank has said in a report that population below poverty line had declined in the state.
“You too won’t agree that Ahluwalia is a Left spokesman or the World Bank a Left body,” he said.
Yechury recalled that the Election Commission had in the past elections,brought security forces and officers for the poll process from outside the state and held elections in five phases,as was demanded by the opposition parties.
“I had then told the Election Commission jokingly that so long as you don’t bring in voters from outside,you can’t fight the Left in Bengal,” he said,maintaining that the Left Front retained power with two-third majority.
To a question on Rahul Gandhi’s comment that the rural employment guarantee scheme was not being properly implemented in Bengal,the CPI(M) leader said there were certain “technical” problems with the NREGA in the state due to soil conditions in some parts or problems relating to cultivation near the mouths of major rivers.
“We have been approaching the Centre for the past two years asking them to permit using the money for different types of cultivation in these areas than those which exist in the rest of the country. But there has been no response,” he said.
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