West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Friday linked rising cases of rapes to increase in the population, while claiming that there were only 45 such cases until November 2012 in Kolkata in comparison to 621 in Delhi in the same year.
"The population is increasing. Is the population in West Bengal the same as it was during the time of Bidhan Chandra Roy? You have raised many questions on law order. You are saying that rapes are increasing," Banerjee told the assembly.
"The population is increasing, cars are increasing, infrastructure is increasing, shopping malls are increasing. Inoxes (multiplex) are coming up. Young people are becoming modern. Don't you welcome it?" she asked while winding up the debate on the Governor's address.
Alleging that newspapers were deliberately exaggerating rape cases, she said that earlier women felt shy of reporting such cases.
"There has been an increase in social consciousness. Now they are registering complaints. This is a good sign. Earlier complaints were not even registered," the chief minister said.
Stating that there should not be even one case of rape, she cited statistics for Kolkata saying that there were 44 rape cases in 2007, 35 in 2008, 42 in 2009, 32 in 2010, 38 in 2011 and 45 in 2012.
In the state there were 1,673 rape cases in 2005, 1,693 in 2006, 2,062 in 2007, 2,228 in 2008, 2,292 in 2009, 2,279 in 2010, 1,650 in 2011 and 1,836 up to November in 2012.
In 2011 there were 453 rape cases in Delhi, 221 in Mumbai, 97 in Bangalore, and 76 in Chennai, she said adding that in 2012, there were 621 rapes in Delhi.
Accusing the previous government of economically ruining West Bengal, she said Congress-led United Progressive Alliance government ‘is charging interest payment of Rs 21,000 crore per year from us for the huge loan taken by the LF government during its 34 years of rule. Now the amount has shot up to Rs 2,50,000 crore".
She said since the Left Front is now in the Opposition, it has a right to criticise the government though ‘what they say is not true. We are standing on the ruins of 34 years (of LF rule)’.
Noting that the Opposition is now able to express its opinion freely, she said, "When we were in the opposition, we were not allowed to speak."
She snubbed Congress Member of Legislative Assembly Rabindranath Chatterjee who while praising the Chief Minister for frequent district tours to assess implementation of development work complained that she was not giving enough time to the assembly when it was in session unlike earlier chief ministers such as Bidhan Chandra Roy and Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee.
Banerjee said she was hurt that the Congress MLA had put Bhattacharjee in the same bracket with Roy. Later, speaking to reporters in the assembly lobby, the chief minister said there had been no death recently in Junglemahal.
Giving statistics, she said during the Left Front rule, 260 people, including 35 policemen, had died in Junglemahal in 2010, while another 40, including two policemen, lost their lives there in 2011. But there was no single death last year.
Referring to political clashes, she said their number had dropped sharply compared to the previous Left Front regime. There were 60 deaths in political clashes in 2008, 106 in 2009, 118 in 2010 and 71 in 2011 and 10 in 2012, she said.
She said of the total number of deaths that took place in the state in political clashes in 2011, 40 of them occurred before the Trinamool Congress-led government took office in May 2011.
Of the total number of dead in political clashes in 2011, six belonged to Trinamool Congress, two to the Communist Party of India-Marxist and another two to the Congress.
Earlier, leader of opposition Suryakanta Mishra complained that law order in the state had deteriorated, while there was attack on democratic institutions including educational institutions by the ruling party.