Vote BJP for 'schemes', TMC for 'scams': Amit Shah in Bengal

Thursday is the last day of campaigning for the first phase of the Assembly elections, which goes to polls on March 27.
Union Home Minister Amit Shah (PTI)
Union Home Minister Amit Shah (PTI)
Updated on Mar 25, 2021 03:18 PM IST
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Posted by | Written by Joydeep Bose

Amid a hyperpartisan political climate in West Bengal ahead of the upcoming state assembly elections, Union Home Minister Amit Shah on Thursday pushed prospective employment as a plank for the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)'s poll campaign. Thursday is the last day of campaigning for the first phase of the Assembly elections, which goes to polls on March 27.

Speaking at a rally in Purulia's Baghmundi, Shah urged voters to opt for the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) in these elections to expand employment avenues in the state. Backing his assertion, Shah alleged that neither the Left Front nor the Mamata Banerjee-led Trinamool Congress (TMC) governments let industries thrive here.

Watch | ‘Mamata chased automobile companies out of Bengal’: Amit Shah’s ‘vikas’ pitch

"Firstly, the Left did not let industries establish here, then Didi also drove industries away. Be it the TMC or the Left, they cannot provide employment. If you want employment, then you must vote for the NDA government," said Union Home Minister Amit Shah.

Home Minister Amit Shah is scheduled to conduct four public meetings today in the Purulia, Jhargram, Purba Medinipur, and South 24 Parganas districts. Baghmundi, in Purulia, takes the first spot in the veteran leader's list as he looks to cash in on a host of issues, including citizenship, undocumented migration, and unemployment.

"If the BJP is voted to power, at least one person from every family will get a job in the next five years," Shah promised, adding, "The choice is yours — if you want 'schemes', vote for Narendra Modi, and if you want 'scams' vote for Mamata Banerjee."

During his poll campaigns in West Bengal, the Union Home Minister has repeatedly been focusing on the state's economic performance, which he says is much worse than the BJP-ruled states. In sharp contrast to his claims, chief minister Mamata Banerjee said that the state’s performance was higher than national averages on many fronts.

Research shows the economy plays a key role in voter choices in advanced economies. There is, however, little empirical evidence to say how much household-level economic well-being decides voting preferences.

Scholars agree voters mostly reward or penalise the incumbent party for economic situations, such as inflation or unemployment rather than vote for future economic prospects. Therefore, the NES 2004 points out voting on economic factors is more likely to be “retrospective” than “prospective”.

It is true that the state, when TMC’s rule began in 2011, was waddling through unsustainable levels of debt and still does. High debt levels limit the ability of a state government to borrow and spend. Moreover, natural disasters, such as Cyclone Amphan in May 2020, have battered the economy. Steering through its debt pile, Bengal has been able to achieve relatively good levels of growth. However, it has been below the national average.

Also Read: How Bengal economy has fared over the last decade

According to data from the ministry of statistics and programme implementation, the state’s average growth of gross state domestic product or GSDP, the most common measure of income at the state level, between 2012-13 and 2017-18 — which coincide, partly, with Banerjee’s first and second term — was around 5.5%, lower than the national average of 7.1%.

West Bengal’s overall economic performance shows it has expanded welfare handouts, spent robustly in rural sectors and laid out investment-friendly policies but the state is still burdened by high debt and lower-than-necessary resource mobilisation. Urban unemployment remains fairly high.

Elections to the 294-member state Assembly will be held in eight phases starting from March 27 with the final round of voting taking place on April 29. The counting of votes will take place on May 2.

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Sunday, December 05, 2021