Taking the Bharatiya Janata Party and its Prime Ministerial candidate Narendra Modi head on, the Communist Party of India-Marxist on Monday said their claims about riot-free Gujarat and development there were "big lies" based on "complete untruth".
Releasing booklets against communalism and one trashing the "so-called Gujarat development model" in New Delhi, senior party leader Brinda Karat also claimed there was "no Modi wave" in the country and the BJP was "desperate" to win the elections.
"Their desperation shows in their actions. They are not only annoying and disappointing their own senior leaders but also giving tickets to those who have been chargesheeted in the Muzaffarnagar riots cases and attracting people like Amit Shah, who is accused in an encounter killing case, and the likes of Pramod Muthalik (whose outfit was accused of molesting women in Mangalore)," she said.
Karat, who was accompanied by Gujarat Communist Party of India-Marxist leader Arun Mehta, said, "The so-called Gujarat model is based on cheap labour and its exploitation, very low expenditure on consumption, very high malnutrition, very high school dropout rates and very low expenditure on education and healthcare."
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Maintaining that the CPI-M booklets had drawn conclusions from official figures like census and NSSO records, she said the per capita consumption expenditure in rural areas of Gujarat showed that 90 per cent people spent only Rs 75 per day on food and essentials.
While the dropout rate was as high as 58 per cent, employment rate grew at 0.4 per cent, much less than the national average, she said.
"Narendra Modi and P Chidambaram are equal in terms of jobless growth. The so-called Gujarat model is only for the corporates and not the people," she said.
Castigating Modi for his 'Vibrant Gujarat' campaign, Mehta said despite claims about uninterrupted power and water supply, Gujarat villages got only six hours of power and he named districts where drinking water supply was "once to thrice a week, and in some places, once in ten days."
The Gujarat CPI-M leader said tribals and the minorities in Gujarat were the worst hit in terms of living conditions, basic amenities and income.
Mehta also said that around eight lakh applications had been received by the state government for 1,500 posts of block-level officers with a total pay package of Rs 5,000.
"A scam has also been unearthed in Gujarat that certain people were taking lakhs of rupees from candidates for these posts," he claimed.
Regarding Modi's "claims about a riot-free Gujarat", Karat said the state has remained "consistently among five top states in terms of history of communal violence". She said it was not a question of an individual but that of the country's secular character and the Modi model could never be an alternative to the Congress policies as they were the same.
Image: Local residents fight to collect free drinking water from a municipal corporation water tanker in Ahmedabad
Photograph: Amit Dave/Reuters