'Gujarat given more central assistance'

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Ahmedabad, Dec 14: Union Finance Minister P Chidambaram today said the Centre had given to Gujarat more money in the past four years than to any other state.

The Centre gave Rs 14,000 crore from taxes to the state during 2004-05 and 2007-08, while for both the Plan and non-plan grants put together, it was another Rs 10,000 crore, Mr Chidambaram told reporters here. ''Never in the history of India so much money has been given by the Centre to the state government in just four years,'' he said adding, ''I am ready to be challenged on this.'' Implying that Gujarat was stuck in a debt-trap, he said in 2001-02, the state's debt was Rs 45,301 crore and as per the current 2007-08 budget document of the state government itself, it had risen to Rs 94,009 crore.

''Chief Minister Narendra Modi boasts of Gujarat's growth. That is questionable since it is not an inclusive growth,'' the Finance Minister said.

''A growth that has kept a large section of the people out, put fear in them and compared to the central welfare programmes like 'NREG', 'Sarvashiksha abhiyan', 'mid-day meal scheme' and 'Aam Admi Bhima Yojana', Modi has nothing to show home about in Gujarat,'' Mr Chidambaram said.

''On all the central parameters of the welfare programmes mentioned above, Modi should answer the people. Instead of working for the people of Gujarat as a whole, Modi has pursued a narrow, sectarian, partisan communal agenda. On all these factors this government must go and a new government needs to come,'' Mr Chidambaram added.

Pooh-poohing the tall claims of growth by the Gujarat Chief Minister, Mr Chidambaram said Gujarat was one of the six most indebted states of the country. Others being West Bengal, Punjab, Rajasthan, Kerala and maharashtra. Interest payment alone was 23.5 per cent of the total revenues while debt as a percentage of Total Revenue Receipts (TRR) was a whopping 285 per cent, he said.


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