Congress president Sonia Gandhi said on Wednesday that the Left Front government had a lot to answer for the growth of Maoism because of its failure on the development front in areas controlled by the red brigade.
"We have provided thousands and lakhs of rupees to the government of West Bengal so that they could bring more development projects in Naxal-affected areas. But they have done nothing. Where is that money? We are asking them where they have used those huge funds," said Sonia Gandhi at Nalhati, about 330 km to the north of Kolkata and barely 30 km from the Jharkhand border, where there is a rebel presence.
"In several parts of our country, the Naxalite movement is our biggest internal problem. To fight this problem we have sent paramilitary forces and, simultaneously, sanctioned crores of rupees for the development of the Naxalite-affected areas," she said in her speech in support of Abhijit Mukherjee, Congress candidate and son of Union finance minister Pranab Mukherjee.
Speaking a couple of hours later at Shantipur in Nadia district, Gandhi said, "As our Prime Minister has said, Naxals are the country’s biggest internal security threat. The Centre is giving full support to the states to combat the problem. But there are a lot of grievances among the people living there. Developing these areas is the only way to solve the problem."
The Congress president's comments came at a time when the CPI(M) has been alleging links between Maoists and the Trinamool, the Congress's ally, for the past one year. Trinamool chief Mamata Banerjee has asked for the withdrawal of the Centre-state joint operations against the Maoists.
In her 10-minute speech in Nalhati, Gandhi criticised the state government for presiding over an all-round decline of the state during the past 34 years.
"Bengal used to be the land for outstanding contributions to the freedom (movement), arts and literature, science. Whenever the country needed, Bengal showed the path. But the Left Front government has ruined this holy land, there is nothing to be proud of anymore," she said.