Launching a scathing attack on BJP, TMC Rajya Sabha MP Derek O’Brien and state minister Bratya Basu said that the saffron party failed to develop Gujarat and are making false promises in Bengal.
Basu derided that listening to Union home minister Amit Shah’s speech, he was reminded of ‘Bhondor Bahadur’, a character created by Gaganendranath Tagore. “He kept on talking about useless things. The home minister spoke about women, fisher folk and the education minister said the largest portion of the money allocated in Gujarat’s budget is used for land acquisition. In the last 10 years, only 2 per cent of the state budget has been allocated for education,” Basu said.
In Gujarat, 45 per cent of the workers are illiterate, and a survey has shown that most have studied only till class V. The salaries of school teachers are irregular and several issues persist regarding their pensions, he alleged.
For public health, Gujarat spends only 0.8 per cent of its total Budget allocation, where in other states, it is between 4-6 per cent. In Gujarat, 45 per cent of the children suffer from malnutrition. The rate child mortality is alarming.
In Gujarat, 94 per cent of the workers receive salaries which are the lowest in the country. The Gujarat government pays the country’s lowest workers’ subsidy. Five times the Gujarat High Court has asked the government to take proper steps for the development of Adivasis, scheduled castes and fisher folk. Thousands of fisher folk in that state have lost their houses. A massive 40 per cent of the population live below the poverty line in Gujarat.
Basu said that Prof Maitreesh Ghatak, a professor of economics at the London School of Economics has described the state of development in Gujarat thus: “Gujarat is a proverbial case of darkness under the lamps. Those who could not develop Gujarat are making false promises.”
O’Brien stated in 2019 BJP manifesto says: “Women’s welfare and development will be accorded a high priority at all levels within the government, and the BJP is committed to 33 per cent reservation in Parliament and state assemblies through a constitutional amendment.”
“But in reality, ‘Women’s Reservation Bill’ was not introduced. If you have the will to work for women bring the Bill in Parliament,” he said. The minister said the highly publicised ‘Beti Bachao Beti Padhao’, Rs 400 crore was spent on an advertisement campaign but 2021 Budget has zero allocation. In Bengal, Mamata Banerjee launched Kanyashree scheme and so far 67 lakh girls received direct cash benefits and so far Rs 9,400 crore spent for this scheme.
O’Brien said, “31 per cent of our MPs in the Rajya Sabha are women. National average is 13 percent and BJP’s is 11 per cent.” Basu said that Banerjee has made 50 per cent reservation for women at all three tiers of panchayat in Bengal.