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Pranab reads out riot act

india Updated: Apr 06, 2011 12:52 IST
Pramod Giri

Union finance minister Pranab Mukherjee on Monday said it loud and clear that the election alliance with Trinamool Congress is beneficial to both parties. Any Congress leader working against the spirit of alliance would be shown the door, said the minister.

Mukherjee, who kicked off the Trinamool-Congress election campaign in North Bengal on Monday, gave his first public speech in Hindi in the state. "Though I've addressed the public in Hindi in Bihar, Monday was my first public speech in Hindi in West Bengal," he said. Most of the listeners were Hindi-speaking.

Proving his point in favour of the alliance, Mukherjee cited the results of 2009 Lok Sabha elections. Addressing about 400 Congress and Trinamool workers at a movie hall in Nagrakata town in Jalpaiguri, 73km from Siliguri, the veteran Congress leader said, "Never in the 40-year history of Congress in West Bengal, has the party won more than four Lok Sabha seats in North Bengal. It was due to the election alliance with Trinamool in 2009 that the party could win six seats overall."

"The alliance with Trinamool is the aspiration of the people of West Bengal who want to see the end of the 34-year-long misrule of the Left Front," said Mukherjee in his 22-minute-speech in Hindi. He further said, "The alliance was neither dictated by some Congress leaders nor they would be allowed to work against it."

The Congress leader—who conspicuously preferred not to touch regional issues such as demand to include the Dooars in the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution and polarisation of majority of Gorkha and Adivasi voters in the Dooars on ethnic lines—termed the Left government as worthless.

Accusing them of creating fear psychosis among voters in the past and creating trouble, Mukherjee said, "The Election Commission this time has adopted stringent measures to ensure free, fair and peaceful elections and the voters should come forward to cast their votes in favour of the alliance candidates."

Countering the state's allegations, he said, the state government was given R2,800 crore in five years for rural housing mission. "While other states want more central funds, the state government failed to utilise the sanctioned money for the purpose."

Citing yet another failure of the state government in North Bengal, he said, "The Teesta barrage project, the largest irrigation project in North Bengal, could not be completed in 30 years whereas similar projects in other states were finished within 10 years." He added that though the Centre has declared Teesta barrage project a national project and has sanctioned 90% of stipulated R700 crore, the state is yet to spend a single penny of remaining 10% of its contribution. He also said that the CPI(M) led Left government has miserably failed to implement central government sponsored programmes such as rural roads, rural electrification, water supply and Indira Awas Yojana.

The state has also failed to provide employment to educated youths, he said. "The number of educated unemployed has crossed the figure of 70 lakh in the state against about 16 lakh before the Left Front came to power," he said.

According to the finance minister, the Dooars problems can be solved only after the alliance comes in to power.