April 9, 2009

Pranab dishing out untruths: Biman Basu

KOLKATA: Left Front Committee chairman Biman Basu on Monday reeled out official statistics to refute External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee’s “Development Report Card – an indictment of the performance of the State Government” released in New Delhi on Sunday.

Mr. Mukherjee, “who only a few days ago had spoken highly of the government here,” now dished out figures that “lie; they are not true.” “This is part of a vilification campaign against the Left Front to which the people of the State will give a fitting reply [in the Lok Sabha elections],” said Mr. Basu, who is also secretary of the CPI(M) State Committee.

“The data must have been provided to him by others; he, as president of the West Bengal Pradesh Congress Committee, was under compulsion to read it out… Mr. Mukherjee is a learned person but had not verified the facts,” Mr. Basu told journalists here.

On malnutrition and hunger — an issue in which, according to Mr. Mukherjee, the State had a dismal track record — Mr. Basu pointed out that he, as a senior minister in the government, would find it difficult to admit that the country stood 66th among the 88 nations where the problem existed.

Mr. Mukherjee’s claim that 11.7 per cent of the rural households in the State reported lack of food in 2004-05 “is a blatant lie.”

More than half of the country’s women suffered from anaemia and the figures were higher in eight States but not in West Bengal — “most in Andhra Pradesh which has a government led by Mr. Mukherjee’s party.”

West Bengal had among the lowest child mortality rates — a performance bettered only by Kerala and Tamil Nadu — and much less than the national average. But the Congress-led Andhra Pradesh and Assam had figures of 54 and 63 per 1,000 against the national average of 55. In West Bengal, it was 37. The number of those in West Bengal availing themselves of medical facilities provided by the State was higher than the national averages in both rural and urban areas.

As regards employment generation, the increase in both rural and urban areas in West Bengal was substantial but this fact was suppressed in Mr Mukherjee’s report, Mr. Basu claimed.

“Neither was there any mention of the fact that one crore people have lost their jobs in the country in the wake of the global economic meltdown … nor of land reforms, mention of which would not have been favourable to the Congress.”

West Bengal had the highest State Domestic Product in the country, the below-poverty-line percentage there had fallen drastically since the Left Front came to power and was 20 per cent in 2004 against the national figure of 22 per cent, Mr. Basu said.

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