Gone are the days when the Trinamool Congress and its ally, the Congress, used to counter the Left on civic issues, health care and the rising costs of essential items to woo voters.
Now, it is focused on just two issues: ridiculing the Left on development; and the Maoist menace. In less than a week, Congress chief Sonia Gandhi has visited the state twice and made near-identical speeches on these two fronts.
On Wednesday, she began her poll campaign in Nalhati by accusing the CPI(M)-led Left Front government of misusing central funds meant for development of the Maoist violence-hit areas.
“We’ve provided crores of rupees to the state government for development projects in Naxal-dominated areas. But they’ve done nothing. Where’s the money?” Gandhi said while campaigning for Abhijit Mukherjee, son of Union finance minister Pranab Mukherjee. Nalhati, 30 km from the Jharkhand border, is known to be part of the Maoist corridor.
“The Naxalite movement is the biggest internal threat to the country. Besides using the security forces to counter them, we’ve also sanctioned crores of rupees for the development of Naxalite-dominated states,” Gandhi said.
Blaming the CPI(M)-led Left Front government for the state’s decline, Gandhi said, “There was a time when Bengal led from the front in all fields. But, in the past 34 years, the Left Front government has ruined the state. Today, there’s nothing in the state to be proud of,” she said. The UPA chief hoped that the Congress-Trinamool Congress combine would be able to throw the Left into the Bay of Bengal after the assembly polls.
“Millions of youths are unemployed. People who work in industries aren’t paid. The government doesn’t bother to look into the welfare of the farmers,” Gandhi alleged.
Pranab Mukherjee, who also addressed the meeting, asked people to vote for the Congress-Trinamool alliance, which, he said, would bring all-round development of the state, if elected.
After her whirlwind tour of Nalhati, Gandhi reached Shantipur in Nadia district to address yet another rally. And, once again, there was nothing new in her speech.
“As Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has, time and again, reiterated, Naxalites are the biggest threat to the country. The Centre’s doing a lot to resolve the problem. There are many grievances among the people living in the Maoist belt. Development is the only mantra to bring about peace,” she said.