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Zero deficit minister seeks to make it fourth in a row

Written by: Staff

Barrackpore, Apr 24 : West Bengal Finance Minister and eminent economist Asim Dasgupta may not have ensured smooth cashflow to the state coffers despite his zero deficit theory, but is confident of fourth entry into the assembly during the elections on April 27.

A professor of Calcutta University, he took to politics since his participation in the general elections as a CPI(M) nominee in 1987.

Despite his busy schedule, Dr Dasgupta takes few classes at the university on an honorary basis.

The fourth phase of assembly elections will show whether he had met the desire of the people or not, for he faces a number of odds starting from a staggering state economy to poor reserves of the state government.

Incidentally, a section of party members in Kharda constituency, from where he seeks re-election, are also raising their brows about Dr Dasgupta's performance and the financial condition of the state government.

Leaders of Opposition parties in his constituency often criticise Dr Dasgupta saying, he should have continued academics instead of exercising the mathematical jugglery while preparing the state budget.

He is also known as the mastermind behind a ''zero-deficit'' budget. The state saw such zero-deficit budgets for a number of years with little show in reality.

He does not have a deposit exceeding Rs 5000 on a particular day.

He resides in a home built in his wife Shyamali Dasgupta' name.

These are the statistics that came to the public through his financial statement submitted in the form of an affidavit before the Returning Officer here, along with nomination papers, to seek election on April four last.

The Finance Minister would be trying to retain his state Legislative Assembly membership valid for the fourth time after assuming office since 1987.

Dr Dasgupta could also face the VAT test in his constituency.

He had introduced Value Added Tax with protests from the business community. How the business community of the state reacts to VAT would be reflected in the polls.

The Massachusetts Institute Technology (MIT) scholar indeed claimed that VAT should be considered as one of the progressive measures to earn extra revenue for the state, giving substantial relief to the business community from the hassle of paying sales taxes to the state and the centre.

Many small businessmen, however, feel that VAT was posing problem with the ultimate hike of price of consumer articles.

This is a kind of over-taxation to the middle and low income group people, many small businessmen pointed out and could have a reflection on the ballot box.

Yet, the CPI(M) leadership was confident that the dimunitive, sauve, cultured and classy Dasgupta would head to the West Bengal assembly, though no one could assure his finance portfolio.


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