April 29, 2009

Rahul remarks an insult to West Bengal’

People continue to repose faith in the Left: Yechury

NEW DELHI: Communist Party of India (Marxist) Polit Bureau member Sitaram Yechury on Saturday said Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi’s criticism of the Left Front government in West Bengal amounted to “insulting the people of Bengal.”

“Rajiv Gandhi had once said Kolkata was a dying city. And you remember what happened after that. Now, his son is echoing similar things about Bengal,” Mr. Yechury told journalists when asked to respond to Mr. Gandhi’s charge that the situation in West Bengal was worse than what was in Uttar Pradesh. “Why are the people continuing to repose faith in the Left? If you say they are doing so for the wrong reasons, then it is tantamount to insulting the people of Bengal,” he added.

The CPI(M) leader drew attention to a study, commissioned under Planning Commission Deputy Chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia, which ranked West Bengal among the top three States. The World Bank too had reported a decline in the below-the-poverty line-level population in the State.

“You too won’t agree that Ahluwalia is a Left spokesman or the World Bank a Left body,” he observed while warning that the Left parties too could reveal worse social indicators in Congress-ruled states.

Conceding that anyone could voice his opinion and Mr. Gandhi was no exception, Mr. Yechury pointed out that the fact that the people of West Bengal had elected the Left Front seven times in a row “merits a re-thinking” among those criticising the government.

The Election Commission had in the past conceded the demand of the Opposition parties by inducting security forces in large numbers from outside the State and staggering the elections in five phases but the result was the same.

“I had then told the Election Commission jokingly that so long as you don’t bring in voters from outside, you can’t fight the Left in Bengal,” he said while pointing out that the Left Front had then won two-thirds of the seats.

On Mr. Gandhi’s remark that West Bengal had failed to properly implement the National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme in some districts, Mr. Yechury blamed the Centre for not responding to the Left Front government’s plea to effect some changes in the utilisation of funds due to the State’s unique climatic conditions. The senior CPI(M) leader said the Bharatiya Janata Party leader L. K. Advani’s political standing would be at stake if he accepted the clean chit given by the former Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh chief, K. S. Sudarshan, regarding his role in Babri Masjid demolition. Mr. Yechury felt it was inconceivable that people would believe in the clean chit given by Mr. Sudarshan or accepted by Mr. Advani.

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