Congress leader Rahul Gandhi Thursday launched a scathing attack on the Left Front government in West Bengal, saying its leaders put their own interests first. He said it had failed to set up industry, check unemployment or provide education.
“The elections are before you. It seems to me the CPI-M government will go after 34 years,” Rahul Gandhi said to tumultuous applause. He was addressing his first election meeting in this belt of Darjeeling district.
“The sad thing is India is marching forward, but Bengal is lagging behind. The way industries should have come and employment should have increased, that did not happen,” he said in a brief speech.
He criticised the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M), which leads the Left Front.
“This is because the state government first thinks about its organisation, its leaders and then about the people of Bengal. You have seen 34 years of CPI-M rule, you know the kind of progress in the state,” he said.
Voting will be held April 18 in the 54 North Bengal constituencies spread across six districts – Darjeeling, Jalapaiguri, Coochbehar, North Dinajpur, South Dinajpur and Malda. The six-phased polls in the state go on till May 10.
Rahul Gandhi said West Bengal had an 80 percent school dropout rate.
“Across India, school education is going fine. But in Bengal, you have the largest dropout in India. Eighty percent of children drop out of school midway,” he said.
He said industrialists were willing to go to states like Maharashtra, Delhi, Haryana, Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu, but loathe to come to West Bengal.
“Nobody wants to pump in money in Bengal. So there is no progress. There is no industry, there is only unemployment,” he said.
Rahul Gandhi said urban employment was 15 percent, while the figure in the rural areas stood at 10 percent. “Because of this, youths, who are the country’s future, are hit the hardest.”
He said his party and the Trinamool Congress, which are fighting the polls together, would ensure development if voted to power.
“The Trinamool and the Congress have a partnership here. We are fighting the polls together. After the elections we will give a government that will usher in development, reduce unemployment, bring children back to school and
end CPI-M misrule,” Gandhi said.
“The government should work for the common people, for the future. We will give you a government which will return West Bengal to the path of growth,” he added.
Referring to the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government at the centre, he said it wanted the country to move forward and ensure rapid industrialisation. “But our main focus is the benefits of development should reach the ‘aam admi’.”
He referred to programmes like the jobs scheme, universal literacy and the midday meal scheme undertaken by the central government. He also talked about farmers’ loans being waived by it.
Rahul Gandhi is scheduled to address four more public meetings in several parts of North Bengal Wednesday. Agencies