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Sonia assails Bengal Government

Written by: Staff

Kolkata, Apr 20 (UNI) Taking on the CPI(M) in its bastion, Congress president Sonia Gandhi today said the UPA Government at the Centre was taking Left's support to serve the people and develop the states, including West Bengal.

''The Congress-led UPA government is taking outside support from the Left -- but it is not to remain in power -- but to serve the interest of the nation on the basis of CMP,'' she said while addressing the first of her three election rallies in the state in a four-and-a-half hour whistle-stop campaign programme.

This was her first round of electioneering for the state Assembly elections.

Making development the refrain for her campaign at Baduria in North Twentyfour Parganas, Maheshtala in South Twentyfour Parganas and the Park Circus Maidan in the city, Ms Gandhi said the UPA Government was committed to the poor's uplift and had introduced a string of pro-people measures, including the National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme.

''We have introduced the National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme even in those states, including West Bengal, where there is no Congress Government. The poor people of this state will also be greatly benefited by it,'' she said.

Ms Gandhi said the UPA Government under the leadership of Dr Manmohan Singh had met every demand of the West Bengal Government, specially in education, power, rural and urban development.

The UPA government had also enacted a law to protect women from domestic and social problems and for the first time set up a Ministry for minorities, she said.

''On the contrary, the Left Front Government in Bengal makes false promises before elections and forgets after it. But if the Congress is voted to power, there will be no lacking in development and the state will regain its lost position in the country,'' she said.

Assailing the State Government for taking the state to 14th position from second, the Congress president said more than 65,000 factories had been closed down and 700,000 people thrown out of job, while the state was bearing a Rs 90,000 crore debt burden.

''West Bengal had everything before the Left Front government came to power. But now we feel sorry for the state. It is not the Bengal that the Congress wanted to build,'' she said.

Ms Gandhi said it was a 'pity' that the poor and landless people were left in the lurch, tea garden workers were starving, incidents of atrocity on women were increasing, there was a huge number of school dropouts and no electricity in many villages.

She also alleged that the state was not spending the Central grants for education.

''It is a matter of regret that the state is continuously lagging behind the others. How long will the people wait ?'' she asked adding her party would fulfil all the promises made in the Common Minimum Programme.

In his speech, WBPCC president Pranab Mukherjee squarely blamed Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee for the failure of the 'Mahajot'(grand alliance), stating that it could not materialise because of her refusal to leave the NDA.

''When I told Ms Banerjee to leave the NDA and ally with us, she said there was no NDA in West Bengal. I humbly reminded her that she was an NDA MP and during voting in Parliament on various issues, she voted for the NDA,'' he said.


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