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Low farm growth, unemployment led to Left downfall: Economists

Source : IANS
Last Updated: Sun, May 15, 2011 11:21 hrs
Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee

Kolkata: Poor agricultural growth, rising unemployment, delayed industrialisation efforts and inadequate investment in infrastructure led to economic decline of West Bengal, which in turn caused the downfall of the Left Front in the assembly elections, say economists.

"Agricultural growth in West Bengal has become almost stagnant. Per capita economic profit from agriculture is reducing. About 50 percent of the state's farming population is not well off today as they were before. There is discontent," Ajitava Roychowdhury, professor of economics at Jadavpur University, said.

According to him, a large number of people in the 18-40 age group were not happy.

"Many of these people lack the necessary education and so they are working in retail sectors, engaged in repairing jobs or working as insurance agents. They are not happy, they want better skill for better job. Some kind of despair is working among them," he said.

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Roychowdhury said the Left Front government lost the opportunity in industrialisation and when it seriously took measures to bring big ticket investment it was already too late.

"We were silent on industrialisation for almost 24 years. Suddenly we woke up and started thinking about it. Already it was too late.

"Despite the attempts, big industries did not come as there was no public investment in infrastructure. The government did not commit itself to capital expenditure and that created a burden in the society," he added.

Kalyan Sanyal, professor of economics at Calcutta University, said faulty land acquisition policy, employment generation problem and financial bankruptcy were the economic issues that spelt doom for the Left Front.

"There was resistance against land acquisition for setting up industry as the government tried to acquire land on the basis of the old land acquisition policy. The Left Front tried to acquire land forcefully in Singur. That went against them. A new and proper land acquisition policy for industrialisation was required," he said.

Following intense anti-acquisition protests in Singur, Tata Motors had pulled out its Nano project from the town in Hooghly district.

"There was no employment generation in West Bengal. Generation of non-agricultural employment was required. But the government was not able to acquire land for industrialisation due to a strong anti-land acquisition movement," he said.

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Due to financial bankruptcy, capital investment also did not take place in the state, he added.

Dipankar Dasgupta, former professor of Indian Statistical Institute, said the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M)-led Left Front government had allowed the state economy to be submerged into a sea of debt.

"The government wasted all its money in revenue expenditure. There was hardly any capital investment. Investment did not take place in infrastructure. Unless there is public investment in infrastructure, private investment will not come," he added.

After 34 years in power the Left Front was swamped by a Trinamool Congress-led charge in the assembly elections.

While the Trinamool Congress-Congress alliance won 227 seats, the Left could win only 62 in the 294-seat assembly.

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