Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Thursday asked the people of West Bengal to end the 34-year-old 'misrule' of the Communist Party of India-Marxist and elect a government of 'aam admi' that would bring development and prosperity to the state.
"We, the Congress and Trinamool Congress are fighting together and will give a government that will bring development to West Bengal," Gandhi said at a public rally at Naxalbari near Siliguri in support of the Congress and Trinamool Congress candidates.
"We want to end the CPI-M misrule of 34 years in the state," Gandhi said, adding the Left Front government has taken the state backwards even as the rest of the country is advanced.
"The government should be of 'aam admi' (common man) and think of the welfare of the people, but here the government thinks of its own organisation and cadres first and then for the people of the state," Gandhi said.
Gandhi, who is scheduled to attend a string of rallies in the West Bengal on Thursday, said the United Progressive Alliance government at the Centre has introduced several welfare schemes for the people including the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act and Sarva Siksha Abhiyaan.
"We gave back Rs 70,000 crore to the farmers. Through the Tribal Act, we gave back land to the tribals," the All India general secretary of the Congress said at the rally.
54 seats in six districts of the region go to polls on April 18 in the six-phase West Bengal assembly elections. The North Bengal region, which has hundreds of tea gardens, have a large percentage of tribal population who make their livelihood by mainly working in the gardens.
"These large public schemes require huge funds which come from economic growth," he said at the well-attended rally, where Gorkha Janmukti Morcha supporters were also seen with their party flags.
The Bimal Gurung-led GJM has announced its unilateral support to the TC-Congress alliance.
"It is sad that though the rest of the country is advancing fast, Bengal has lagged behind," Gandhi said. "I feel that the Left Front government here will finally go after 34 years and the people will get an opportunity to get the fruits of development as in the rest of the country," he said.
Claiming that the state has the highest rate of school dropouts at 80 per cent, he said industrialists give the state a go-by while choosing states like Maharashtra, Delhi or Tamil Nadu because of the ruling Left Front's mindset.
Gandhi also claimed that the state has 15 per cent urban employment, while it suffers from 10 per cent rural unemployment.
Image: Rahul Gandhi