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“West Bengal worst governed,” charges Chidambaram

Raktima Bose

KOLKATA: Describing West Bengal as one “among the worst-governed States in the country”, Union Home Minister P. Chidambaram said here on Monday that only a change in government could bring about a change in the “extremely bad” law and order situation. He also termed the financial health of the State “precarious”.

Addressing a press conference, Mr. Chidambaram slammed the Communist Party of India (Marxist) for “actively encouraging” armed cadres to indulge in violence and criticised Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee for denying the presence of armed cadres even after it was being repeatedly brought to his notice by the Union Home Ministry.

“For last two years and four months I had repeatedly brought to notice of the Chief Minister that situation on law and order situation front is extremely bad…I lay the blame squarely on the CPI(M) which actively encourages its cadres to procure arms and indulge in violence. Once I had described large parts of the State as killing field.”

Pointing out that the Netai killings “burst the bubble” and proved the presence of armed CPI(M) cadres, he furnished figures to prove that activists of the Trinamool Congress and the Congress have been at the “receiving end” of the rampant political clashes.“In 2010, inter-party clashes killed 204 persons of whom 99 were from the Trinamool Congress, 16 from the Congress and 68 from the CPI(M). Similarly, till April 15 this year, 14 Trinamool Congress, four Congress and five CPI(M) activists have been killed. So the picture is quite clear that it is the Trinamool Congress and Congress activists who are at the receiving end,” he asserted. Accusing the Left Front Govt. of neglecting governance for the past 34 years, Mr. Chidambaram promised to help the alliance government, if voted to power, to stop killings.

Mr. Chidambaram described the State financial condition as “debt-stressed”.

Highlighting the fact that the State had gone overdraft seven times in 2010-11 and already once since the 2011-12 financial year commenced this month, Mr. Chidambaram said the State is in a “precarious cash situation” with an overdraft amount of Rs. 1,323 crore till April 6.

“Its tax and gross domestic product ratio is lowest among the larger States in general category. While the State has a borrowing ceiling of Rs. 17,828 crore per year, it continues to borrow over that limit…the Centre has already allowed the State for open-market borrowings of Rs. 3,173 crore in April,” he pointed out. Restoration of the State's financial health will be a “truly Herculean effort” given the “worrisome” revenue deficit and high interest payment rates and added that only a new Govt. with “fresh thinking and energy” could achieve it.“I look forward to a change coming about in West Bengal that will assume office in the month of May. I have come here to offer my advance congratulations to people for bringing about the change,” he said.

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