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March 9, 2014

Bengal’s development model stronger than Gujarat: Mamata tells PTI in an exclusive interview

Bengal’s development model stronger than Gujarat: Mamata tells PTI in an exclusive interview

In an interview to PTI, Trinamool Chairperson and West Bengal Chief Minister Ms. Mamata Banerjee said that Bengal’s development model stronger than that of Gujarat. In the ‘development-versus-development’ debate, she says there is a “huge difference” between the models pursued by her and Modi because of circumstances.

“Let me answer your question directly. Did Mr A, or Mr B, have the Junglemahal (naxal) problem to resolve? We have brought peace there. Did Mr A or Mr B have the Darjeeling-like problem to resolve? Darjeeling is now smiling. Did Mr A or Mr B inherit a debt burden for his state of over Rs. 2 lakh crore” she told PTI in an interview.

“In spite of overcoming all these, we have been on the path of development,” added Ms. Banerjee.

She was responding when asked if she sees a difference between the models of development being pursued by Mr Modi and her own.

Seeking to justify how her model of development was better, the Trinamool Congress leader said, “Let me talk facts and show how the two states (West Bengal and Gujarat) cannot be compared.”

She suggested that Gujarat has had sustained development without facing any problems while West Bengal `had to rise from bottom upwards` as it had been “ruined for over 34 years by the Communists”.

In West Bengal, she said, every parameter had gone down.

There was “flight of capital” from the State, 50,000 factories had been closed down and one crore people had been rendered unemployed.

“This was the story of West Bengal when my government took over. Other states have had sustained development for many decades,” she contended.

“What West Bengal is doing today, India must do tomorrow. These are not hollow words,” Ms. Banerjee insisted.

To prove her point, the Chief Minister listed `some concrete examples` like setting up of fair price medicine shops, web-based procurement policy of medicines and `Kanya Shree` scheme.

“My state also now has a PPP policy, an IT policy, a Textile policy. We have done more in 34 months than what the Communists have done in 34 years,” she maintained.

These schemes, she said, could be replicated by other states for their betterment.

Ms. Banerjee said that before she came to power, the work culture in her state had been ruined.

“When my government took over, half the man days lost in India were from Bengal. Between 2008 and 2011, 70 lakh man days were lost through strikes. We brought that figure down to 5,200. And this year it is nil. Compared to this, states like Gujarat have always had a good work culture. But we have had to change the full attitude. So before you start comparing Bengal to other states, it is important to understand this. We have done all this and more and that is why people are putting their faith in us, election after election,” she said.

Talking about the initiatives by her government as well as the results they have borne, Ms. Banerjee said, “You will be happy to know that in MSME, the growth in Bengal has been 105 per cent. The same in Karnataka is 48 per cent, Gujarat is in the 20s.”

She said that the tax collection in West Bengal has been doubled from Rs 20,000 crore in the last three years without a single tax being raised.

“I can challenge and say that Bengal`s new Industrial Policy document has a detailed incentive package which is better than any other State,” Ms. Banerjee added.

One more fact: Number of ports in Gujarat: 19. Number of ports in Bengal: 2

Bengal has 2 ports compared to 19 in Gujarat – inbuilt disadvantage to the eastern State. Also, Bengal government has inherited silt-filled ports. That is why the State has to do `transloading at sea`. The Centre has neglected this for decades.