Law and order situation in WB matter of grave concern: PM

Katwa (WB): Launching a frontal attack on the ruling Left Front government, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Saturday said the law and order situation in West Bengal was a matter of "grave concern" and called for a change to give a fresh lease of life to the state.

"The law and order situation in the state is a matter of grave concern. If the Congress-Trinamool Congress combine comes to power after the elections, its first task would be to bring peace and all-round development," the Prime Minister told an election rally here.

Observing that the state has slipped into the morass in `all fields,` — agriculture, industry, investment, health and education, he said, "The chariot of the administration has come to a halt in the state. It is now time for a change. Only a Congress-Trinamool Congress government can give a fresh lease of life to the state."

The Prime Minister said the Left Front government lacked vision and had no concrete policy on agriculture and industry. "The state government has lost the confidence of investors and the people."

He said West Bengal, which once occupied an important place in industry, now lagged behind many states.

"I have come here with the message of Sonia Gandhi to elect the Congress-Trinamool Congress government in Bengal to give an opportunity to serve you. You have given the Left Front an opportunity for 34 years, but it failed to deliver," Singh said.

Coming down heavily on the state government for failing to ensure industrial development to create jobs, the Prime Minister said factories in Kalyani and other areas have closed down.

"The condition of the manufacturing, tea and tourism industries is very bad. Unless investment comes, how will the youth have any income? It is matter of regret that despite potential in the state, the children of Bengal have to go for jobs elesewhere.

"Only a Congress-Trinamool Congress government can take a revolutionary initiative in development," he said.

Referring to the report of the Sachar Committee which was set up by the UPA government, the Prime Minister said that Muslims in the state were lagging behind in terms of progress than their brethern elsewhere in the country.

"There are more Muslim representation in government jobs in Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Gujarat and Assam than in West Bengal. The Left Front is responsible for this," Singh said.

He said the Centre has taken up a special 15-point scheme for the development of minorities. "In many scheme, 15 per cent of the funds have been reserved for minorities."

Observing that one of the most successful schemes of the government is the scholarship schemes for pre and post-matric students, he said, several lakh students, including girls, have benefitted from the scheme last year.

Accusing the West Bengal government of failing to properly utilise funds for various development schemes, Singh said the Centre had given sufficient funds under the MNREGA, National Rural Health Mission, Sarva Siksha Abhiyan, the Mid-day Meal Scheme and the PMGSY.

"It is unfortunate that the Bengal government has not been able to utilise the funds," he said, adding the Andhra Pradesh government provided jobs to 60 lakh people under MNREGA during 2010-11, while in Bengal, only 48 lakh were provided jobs for 22 days.

Noting that West Bengal`s public health system was in shambles, he said the number of doctors was insufficient, the Primary Health Centres were not functioning and women and children were suffering from malnutrition.

West Bengal has not been able to spend 70 per cent of the funds of the National Rural Health Mission, he said.

"The Left Front accuses the Centre of discrimination against the state, but it cannot spend Central funds. It must be pondered why the state government cannot spend the funds sent to it by the Centre for the benefit of the people," the Prime Minister said.

Expressing concern about the state financial debt, Singh said West Bengal`s revenue deficit during 2009-10 was more than all other states.

Lamenting the "deterioration" of the standard of education in Bengal, Singh said that even smaller states like Manipur and Nagaland have a higher literacy rate.

"I have had the opportunity to work with some renowned economists from Bengal like Prof Sukhomoy Chakraborty and Dr Amartya Sen who are among the leading lights in education in the state. It is a matter of regret that the standard of education has fallen so much nowadays in this Bengal," he said.

Noting that improving the standard of education in Bengal would require hard work, Singh said that educational institutions should be kept free from political interference.

Referring to various steps taken by the UPA government for development of education in the state, he said an Indian Institute of Science Education and Research has been set up here in 2005.

A special grant of Rs 95 crore has been given to Visva-Bharati for its upgradation, a campus of the Aligarh Muslim University has been set up at Murshidabad and a Central engineering university, named after Congress leader A B A Ghani Khan Chowdhury was coming up at Malda, he said.

Pointing out that not enough youth were getting employment in the IT companies at Salt Lake and Rajarhat, he called for public-private initiatives in improving the lacunae in the state`s education system. "Only a Congress-Trinamool Congress government can do this work to make the state reoccupy the pride of place in education."

He said that Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose had dreamt of a peaceful and prosperous Bengal and India and we should work to turn his dream into reality. "Let us elect a government that will bring peace and development in the state," he said.

The Prime Minister was all praise for Union Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee, who was present at the rally.

"Pranab Mukherjee is a very senior leader. He is a great help to me in running the government," Singh said.