Jalpaiguri/Malda (WB), Apr 15: Promising that the Congress-Trinamool alliance would make West Bengal an advanced state if it was elected to power, Congress president Sonia Gandhi today said the Left Front in its 34-year rule had made the state backward in every respect.
“The Left Front government owes an explanation to the people why the state, which was one of the most advanced states at the time it took over in 1977, became a backward state,” Gandhi said addressing several election rallies in north Bengal which goes to poll on April 18.
She said the Centre had given crores of rupees to the state government under various development schemes, but a major part of the amount went back to the Centre unutilised.
She said if the central funds had been used properly, things would not have come to such a pass.
She claimed that never had a government at the Centre given so much money to the states for implementing development schemes as the Manmohan Singh government had.
Asking voters to bring new custodians of the Writers' Buildings (state secretariat,) Gandhi said the public distribution system has practically collapsed in the state, law and order is in a very bad shape and health and education are in a mess.
Some districts in West Bengal are among the most backward in the country and many places lack proper irrigation facilities, with one-third of the people having no access to drinking water, she claimed.
She accused the state government of discrimination in implementing development schemes, keeping out those areas where Congress has influence.
She said all the LF government had done in the 34-year rule was selling dreams to the people.
It has even failed to prepare a list of people below poverty line (BPL) in the state. If the BPL list had been prepared properly, lakhs of people would have benefited from it, the Congress president felt.
On the other hand, Gandhi said, the amount of work done by the Congress-led government at the Centre for all classes of people had not been done in the past by any non-Congress government.
Gandhi said the Centre had initiated many pro-poor schemes like MNREGA and Bharat Nirman, besides bringing workers in the unorganised sector under insurance cover.
While the salaries of Anganwadi workers have been doubled, the Centre has also raised the reservation limit for women from 33 per cent to 50 per cent in the municipalities and civic bodies, she said.
She promised that the alliance government would not discriminate against anybody on the basis of one's political affiliation.
Speaking at the same meeting, senior Congress leader Pranab Mukherjee said the people of the state want a change.
“Bengal had seen a lot of development when Congress leader B C Roy was at the helm of affairs in the state, but after the LF came to power there has been no development, only decline,” Mukherjee said.
Gandhi held meetings at Jalpaiguri town in Jalpaiguri district and Ratua English Bazar in Malda district. PTI