Buddhadeb rebuts PM's statement of non-performance

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Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee
Kolkata, Apr 24: West Bengal Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee on Sunday, Apr 24 said that he was surprised by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's statement about the state government's "overall failure".

"I am surprised at what the Prime Minister said yesterday. I don't know when he discovered that the state government was not working," Bhattacharjee said at a ''Meet- the-Press'' programme here and observed that the government's performance would be only judged by the people.

The Prime Minister, he said, had never complained to him about his government's alleged non-performance during his meetings in Delhi.

Rather, Singh was always eager to know about the progress in land distribution, new industries in the state and the proposed investment in the state by Japan, he said.

"The Prime Minister had come to the state to campaign for the Assembly elections. He had to follow his party's line," Bhattacharjee said.

The chief minister said he was also surprised by Singh''s another comment that Muslims in West Bengal were worse off than those in Gujarat.

"I did not expect such comments from Singh. Muslims in our state live in peace and harmony; whereas those in Gujarat live in a state of uncertainty.

Besides, Muslims in our state get scholarships and business loans. No state gives the kind of loans that the Muslims get from the West Bengal Minority Development Corporation," he claimed. .

Bhattacharjee also dismissed the Prime Minister's comment that West Bengal's literacy rate was below that of Manipur and Nagaland, saying the state''s literacy rate was 77 percent, which was higher than the national average of 76 per cent.

Referring to Singh's assurance that steps would be taken to upgrade the Presidency College if the Congress-Trinamool Congress alliance came to power, the chief minister said, "We have upgraded Presidency College to a university. The Centre did not do it. We have plans to further upgrade Presidency into a centre of excellence."

Bhattacharjee said that the Prime Minister, in his election rallies at Katwa and Dum Dum yesterday, did not touch upon the issues of price rise, corruption or Maoist threat.

"I know that the Prime Minister is unhappy that work for the Eastern Freight Corridor could not be started in two years, but he did not mention it. Also, he is unhappy about the agitation at Singur, but he did not mention it," the Chief Minister said.

When pointed out that the Prime Minister had once described him as the ''best'' chief minister in the country, he said, "May be, he changed his mind on the eve of the election. This is not unusual. After all, he attended a public meeting and had to say something."

Asked if he had any message for Singh for his comments yesterday, Bhattacharjee replied in the negative, saying, "He is the Prime Minister. He is doing his job and I am doing mine."

PTI

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