The leftist leaders claim that because of all round socio-economic development of West Bengal under their rule, the Left Front is winning successive elections. According to them the accusation of the Opposition that the Left Front wins elections by rigging is untrue and baseless. The former chief minister of the state Jyoti Basu also said that they won the Elections six times and each time the election Commission certified the election to be free and fair. The EC is the constitutional authority to conduct elections in India. Its certificate about the fairness of the election is expected to be acceptable by the people. But the leftists hardly accept the fairness certificate of the EC if it relates to the election success of any opposition party. In 1972, the Congress under Shri S.S. Roy won the elections and the EC certified the elections to be free and fair. But the leftists condemned the elections claiming it to be ?rigged election?. This speaks of left'sdouble standard.
It may be worthwhile to consider the leftist'sclaim of West Bengal's emerging better socio-economic condition under the Left Front rule. Earlier, the deputy chairman of the Plainning Commission wanted to ascertain from the Left Front government whether the Central projects aimed to improve the socio-economic conditions of the rural poor in West Bengal had properly been implemented during the last ten years. The State government'sreply in the matter not only failed to satisfy the Planning Commission, but it was found that the State government showed little interest for those projects.
The Left Front government claims that in foodgrains production the state is the best in India. However, the total foodgrains production in India in 2003-04 (Central Government Economic Survey 2004-05) had been 212 million metric tons of which 44.18 million MT came from UP and 18.05 million MT came from Rajashtan, and West Bengal'scontribution was only 7 per cent. It is not known how West Bengal could be adjudged as the best in the country in foodgrains production. When decade wise national average rate of agricultural productivity increase was 50 per cent, West Bengal'sincrease was only 18.4 per cen. The state'slandless agricultural labourers were 32.72 lakh (1971 census), but increased to 73.62 lakh by 2001. Such 125 per cent increase is unparallel in the country. The agricultural labourers in West Bengal hardly get 150 days work a year and also do not get minimum wage. In absence of agro-based industries in the state, the rural labourers in lakhs leave West Bengal in search of work elsewhere. In West Bengal villages, now 55 per cent families live in a single room. In rural areas 80 per cent to 92 per cent families depend on kerosine oil having no electricity. The drinking water is contaminated with arsenic.
The average rate of BPL population in rural West Bengal is 31.85 per cent as against national rate of 27.09 per cent. This BPL rate is 9.38 per cent in Kerala, 6.35 per cent in Punjab and 13.17 per cent in Gujarat. Many states like Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu etc have by sincere efforts been able to raise many people above the BPL level, the Left Front in West Bengal during their long rule has not been able to do so. According to the survey of Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy, in industrial development West Bengal is at seventh place and in terms of foreign investment it is at eighth place among the Indian states. According to this survey report, currently there has been investment of 8.51 crore rupees in industry in India of which West Bengal'sshare is only 3.38 per cent. The per capita industrial production in West Bengal is about half of national per capita industrial production. West Bengal'sregistered unemployed is about 70 lakh. In view of the facts, it is not known how the leftists claim that they have ushered all round socio-economic development of West Bengal during the long Left Front rule. Finances in West Bengal are in dire straits and going by Reserve Bank of India and Plainning Commission documents, the state is on the verge of entering a debt trap. The State government reportedly is to take loan to pay the salary of its employees. The West Bengal government'sloans amount to about rupees one lakh crore, and about 48 per cent of its total revenue is expended to pay interest on the loans and the rest goes to pay the salary of the state government employees leaving hardly any money to finance the socio-economic development of the State. The Sate is over burdened with a committed expenditure of 111.5 per cent of the total revenue receipts of the State on salaries and pensions, whereas the all-India state'saverage is only 75 per cent. The State is not in a position to enhance its revenue collection. Thus neither the State'sfinance nor its economy is in good shape, the leftist leader'sdenial notwithstanding.
(The writer is retd from Indian Revenue Service and can be contacted at 73/10, Golf Club Road, Kolkata-700 033.)