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Time for regime change in West Bengal, says PM
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was addressing an election meeting in Burdwan.
Katwa (West Bengal): Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Saturday said it was time for a regime change in West Bengal and promised an industrial revolution and a push ahead to the state's falling education standards if the Trinamool Congress-Congress alliance is voted to power. The prime minister, addressing an election meeting in Burdwan district, said West Bengal lags behind other states in industry and many factories had closed down. He asked how could the people get employment if investments did not come.
"There is a huge demand for manpower for industry, including information and technology. But there is no infrastructure. Investment in these sectors is hugely required. Only our alliance can bring in the necessary investments... a new industrial revolution," he said.
Recalling his experience of working with many well-known economists from the state such as Amartya Sen and Sukhomoy Chakroborty, the prime minister regretted that the educational standards had "sharply deteriorated".
"These people have been examples of Bengal's tradition of learning and teaching. But according to the 2001 census, in literacy Bengal stood 18th. According to the just concluded census the state has fallen further behind to the 20th spot behind smaller states like Nagaland and Manipur," said Singh.
He said if the alliance was voted to power, the state would march ahead in education. "We will have to work very hard. The infrastructure and teaching staff need to be improved."
Hitting out at the Left Front government, Manmohan Singh expressed concern over the law and order situation and said the first task of the Trinamool-Congress alliance, if voted to power, would be to restore peace in the state.
The prime minister appealed to the people to "give a chance" to the Congress-Trinamool alliance to govern the state. Singh said it was time to usher in a regime change and promised an industrial revolution if the opposition got the people's mandate.
"Law and order is a matter of deep concern. Central forces had to be deployed at many places like Jhargram (in West Midnaproe district). If we come to power, our first job will be to establish peace and order," Singh said at an election meeting.
"I appeal to the masses to give the Congress-Trinamool alliance a chance to govern the state. The people have given the chance to the Left Front to rule the state for 34 years. But the time of change has come. Sonia Gandhi (Congress president) has given me this message that Congress-Trinamool be given a chance," Manmohan Singh said.
During his 17-minute speech, the prime minister said the governance machinery has come to a standstill in the state. "They have no idea how to govern. They cannot feel the pulse of the youth. The government has no concrete plans for industry and education," he said.
Refering to the Rajinder Sachar Committee report on the condition of Muslims, the prime minister said the conditions of the community were "very poor" in West Bengal compared to other states and held the LF government responsible for this. "Their representation in government jobs is very low. If we come to power, we will take everybody along on the path of development," he said.
The prime minister assailed the LF combine for failing to utilise central funds meant for development. "They have been very poor in implementing the projects. The National Rural Employment Gaurantee Act is a burning example. Other states have done very well in comparison".
He also criticised the state's health infrastructure, saying it was in shambles while the state government has managed to use only 70 percent of the allocation under the National Rural Health Mission. "Why haven't they been able to utilise the central funds? Because the government is debt-ridden," he signed off.
Katwa goes to polls on May 3 in the fourth phase of assembly elections in the state.
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