Manmohan Singh calls for change in Bengal (Lead)

May 1st, 2009 - 10:04 pm ICT by IANS  

Manmohan Singh Dumurjala (West Bengal), May 1 (IANS) Attacking the Left in its backyard, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh Friday said West Bengal is lagging behind because of the communist parties’ policies, and called for a change in the state.
Addressing an election meeting here in Dumurjala, 12 km from Kolkata, Manmohan Singh also alleged that the Left was helping the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to come to power by dividing the “secular votes”.

“Their stand on a lot of issues has not kept pace with time… I advice them to change their thoughts to remain on par with the needs of the time.”

The prime minister regretted that the Left voted along with the BJP against the trust motion in parliament last year.

“In a way, they are helping the BJP in these elections by dividing the secular votes,” Manmohan Singh said.

He also said the Third Front, led by the Left parties, had no chance of coming to power. “The Third Front parties do not have any programme. They don’t have any long-term vision for the country’s development. Their single point programme is to thoughtlessly oppose every work done by the Congress.”

Referring to the manifestoes of the Left parties, the prime minister said: “Their policies will lead to price rise, foreign investments will stop… their foreign policies are also outdated.”

Mentioning that the Left in their document have named the Congress 24 times for criticism, Manmohan Singh pointed out: “They forget that they supported the Congress for four years.”

On a day’s visit to the state to campaign for the alliance partner Trinamool Congress’ candidates, Manmohan Singh said the time has come for change.

“Paschim Bangal mein badlaav ka samay aa gaya hai. (The time has come for a change in West Bengal.),” he emphasised.

“Incidents like Singur and Nandigram should not have happened. Industrialisation is necessary. But it should not come up on fertile land and peasants should be paid proper compensation,” he said.

The prime minister was referring to Tata Motors being forced to shift its small car Nano plant from Singur in West Bengal to Sanand in Gujarat following sustained protests by anti-land acquisition groups in this state.

The state government was also forced to shift the Nandigram special economic zone (SEZ) project after large-scale protests over procuring fertile land for setting up a hub of chemical industries.

Referring to the report card brought out by the Congress slamming the Left Front for its alleged failure on the development front, the prime minister said: “I agree with the report card.”

He urged people to give the Congress-Trinamool combine a chance.

“We will work better than the Left,” he commented.

The prime minister refuted the Left Front’s charge that the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government had not helped in the state’s development.

“I have personally taken interest in Bengal’s development programmes. I came to Bengal seven times during my tenure. I regularly reviewed development work in the state… Whenever the state government and the chief minister sought help, we obliged them happily,” he said.

The prime minister said his government ensured faster economic and industrial growth and saw to it that the development work reached the masses, particularly the economically and socially backward sections.

He then threw a barb at the Left. “Had the Left not opposed our good work, we could have done better.”

Assailing the Left for opposing the India-US civil nuclear deal, the prime minister said his government had signed such treaties with France and Russia too.

“No development work can be done if we don’t have enough electricity. But the CPI-M (Communist Party of India-Marxist) is misleading the people by saying that we are submitting to the diktats of the US,” Manmohan Singh said.

“Just as the Left have been proved wrong on a lot of issues in the past, on the nuclear deal also they would be proved wrong in the future,” he added.

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