As the state of West Bengal gears up for the upcoming assembly elections scheduled to take place in 2021, a ‘TMC fail card’ has been released by BJP that describes the corrupt and inept governance for the last 10 years when the Mamata Banerjee-led Trinamool Congress(TMC) was in power in the state. The card was released by senior BJP leaders Swapan Dasgupta, Shishir Bajoria and Shamik Bhattacharya
From busting lies about the proclaimed economic growth in the state to the total collapse of law and order in the state, from the marked deterioration of the education system in the state to the abandonment of economically backward, and the appalling state of healthcare in the state, the ‘TMC fail card’ debunks the false claims made by the Mamata Banerjee government and carries in details the missteps taken by the regime during the last decade of being in power.
Lies about the economic growth in the state
The fail card states that the TMC government in West Bengal has often resorted to lying to portray a deceitful picture of the economic growth in the state. It contended that TMC’s claim that the average per-person income has more than doubled under their rule is “absolutely incorrect” and “deliberate misrepresentation”. It further adds that the quoted per capita income numbers do not account for inflation and are not at constant prices that provide a more accurate assessment.
At constant prices, the card asserts that the average per-person income of West Bengal has risen from Rs 51,543 in 2010-11 to Rs 71,757 in 2019-2020. At the constant prices, West Bengal also ranks a poor 24th out of the 32 states and UTs benchmarked in 2018-2019 and 15th out of the 20 states and UTs benchmarked in 2019-2020 on average per-person income.
Besides, the pamphlet released by the senior BJP leaders also states that TMC claims on growth in GSDP, agriculture, industry and service sectors are also misleading. It asserts that West Bengal has underperformed as compared to the rest of the country during the decade of TMC rule and which is reflected in the GDP numbers that have slipped from 6.03 per cent in 2010-11 to 5.25 per cent in 2018-19. Similarly, the growth of the agriculture sector, industry and services sector has also been dismal.
The TMC government is also accused of withholding crucial information about the state’s budget. The fail card says that the state’s debt estimate stands at a staggering Rs 4.5 lakh crore and out of Rs 2.34 lakh crore budget announced in February 2020, just Rs 75,073 crore is from the state’s own revenue, tax and non-tax.
On the foreign investment front as well, the TMC government has been equally disappointing. The foreign direct investment in the state even after a decade of TMC government remained stuck at 1 per cent, demonstrating that the government has thoroughly failed in attracting new investment to the state.
Total collapse of law and order in West Bengal
The ‘fail card’ paints a grim picture of the abysmal state of law and order in West Bengal. It has stated that the protection given to the criminals by the TMC in exchange for money and muscle has created anarchy in the state. The pamphlet draws on the statistics to allege that Bengal has witnessed the fourth-highest number of murders in the country. West Bengal has recorded the highest number of attempt to murder cases and the highest number of grievous hurt.
The state has also seen political violence as a tool to silence the dissenting opposition voices. The brand of politics practised by the TMC, the pamphlet states, has provided a breeding ground for terror networks such as Al Qaeda to flourish. Left-wing extremism has also seen an uptick and so has incidents of communal violence across the state.
Trinamool Congress has also been accused of turning the administration into its personal army. It alleges that administration officials such as state police are routinely used to quell the opposition protest, other officials help the TMC government in covering up murders of opposition workers and act as mouthpiece to exonerate the party cadres. “The politicisation of the administration has happened to such an extent opposition workers are being killed in police custody and in police firing on peaceful protests,” the released pamphlet said.
Marked deterioration in Bengal’s education system under the TMC rule
The ‘TMC fail card’ released by the BJP leaders has noted that there is a marked deterioration in the state’s education system. It contended that about 90 per cent of the government-run elementary schools do not have basic furniture like desks and tables for all students. The situation is notably similar in higher secondary and secondary schools. About 16,289 government-run schools do not have the requisite number of teachers as per the RTE norms.
Even education related schemes such as Kanyashree Prakalpa and Sabooj Sathi have become a source of cut-money for the TMC government, the leaflet says. Notably, Kanyashree Prakalpa has failed to deliver on its promises, as West Bengal has been one of the worst performers with regard to early age marriage. About 42 per cent of women are married before attaining the age of 18 while the national average hovers around 26 per cent.
Even in the field of higher education, Mamata Banerjee’s TMC government has spectacularly failed. With an alarming ratio of 13 colleges per lakh population, parents and guardians in West Bengal are forced to pay huge amounts of cut money to TMC workers to secure admissions for their kins in colleges.
Dismal state of healthcare in West Bengal under TMC
The glaring gaps in healthcare infrastructure have caused tremendous suffering for the people of West Bengal. The state faces shortfall in all categories of healthcare centres—Sub Centres, Primary Health Centres, and Community Health Centres.
The fail card observes that not just health centres, but the state is also facing an acute shortage of trained healthcare personnel. About 516 positions for doctors at rural PHCs are lying vacant out of a sanctioned 1,326 positions. Out of 574 sanctioned positions for specialists in CHCs in rural West Bengal, 503 positions are vacant.
Mamata Banerjee’s persistent denial to implement Ayushman Bharat in West Bengal has left the poor and the weak vulnerable and without a safety net. Hundred of crores could have been saved if Ayushman Bharat had been accepted by the TMC and the funds could have been used for ramping up the healthcare infrastructure to fight the coronavirus pandemic.
The pamphlet also notes that the TMC government has failed remarkably in controlling the spread of the disease in the state. As per the National Health Profile 2019, Bengal has recorded the highest number of acute diarrhoeal diseases in the country with 21,15,771 cases. Likewise, it also registered the highest number of dengue cases in the country with 37,746 cases that amounted to 20 per cent of the total cases. Furthermore, West Bengal registered the highest number of measles, rabies, meningococcal meningitis cases in the country.
The COVID-19 pandemic has served to highlight the terrible state of healthcare in Bengal. As of 11 December 2020, West Bengal has reported the third-highest number of active coronavirus cases. “Significant inefficiency, dysfunctional decision-making and acute shortage of healthcare capacity have further exacerbated the issue,” the pamphlet said.
TMC government has shunned Bengal’s economically backward population
In their report card for the TMC, the BJP leaders have alleged that the Trinamool Congress has failed even in the most fundamental job of providing basic necessities of food, shelter, and water to the economically backward people in the state. It stated that besides repackaging central government’s schemes, TMC has blocked efforts to seeding of Aadhar cards that plays a crucial role in ending corruption.
The national Aadhar seeding rate is 83 per cent but it is 64 per cent in West Bengal. The TMC has also opposed One Nation One Ration Card because it would deprive them of carrying out corruption in PDS, the pamphlet read.
About 26 per cent of Bengal households still don’t have access to pucca housing. 19.5 per cent of rural housing and 11 per cent of urban housing were classified as bad in the 76th round of the National Sample Survey. 70 per cent of rural and 25 per cent of urban houses have no access to drainage facilities. Even sanitation coverage was improved only after PM Modi launched Swachh Bharat mission.
Furthermore, West Bengal has installed a paltry 2.2 lakh taps against a steep target of 55.5 lakh under the Jal Jeevan Mission to provide access to clean water to rural households.
The TMC’s misgovernance exacerbated the impact of COVID-19 and Cyclone Amphan on the economically backward population. Widespread corruption was reported in the distribution of relief materials, including food during the COVID-19 induced lockdown. There was no cooperation extended by the Mamata Banerjee to the Central Government in bringing back state’s migrant workers and she even called the special trains designated for this purpose “Corona Express”.
Rs 5000 crore granted to Bengal government to rebuild dams and barrages in Sundarban area were misused. The TMC was also accused of presiding over corruption in the funds granted by the Centre under PMAY.
Injustices meted out to SC, ST and OBC communities under Mamata Banerjee’s regime
The communities of SC, ST and OBC had to suffer grave injustices under the TMC government in West Bengal. The National Commission for Scheduled Castes’ repeated admonition to the Mamata Banerjee government only illustrated the regime’s apathy towards the welfare of the SC population.
Despite making promises of revision in the salaries of the Tea Plantation workers, the majority of which belong to the SC community, the TMC government has failed in providing any relief to them. It has also failed in ensuring that the ST population gets their substantive rights under the Forest Rights Act. By opposing the Citizenship Amendment Act, the TMC government preventing a large portion of the SC community from living a dignified life.
The TMC government is also accused of expanding the OBC category to 97 per cent of their vote bank, thereby depriving the real beneficiaries belonging to the OBC community.
West Bengal infrastructure in ruin due to TMC’s misgovernance
Bengal’s infrastructure is in ruin due to the apathy and indifference of the Mamata Banerjee government. Even after 73 years of independence, electricity remains both unavailable and unaffordable. Kolkata is infamous for having the highest electricity rates in the country, making it highly unaffordable for the poor in the city.
The collapse of the Ultadanga and Majerhat bridges in West Bengal demonstrates the government lack of supervision towards the state’s debilitating infrastructure.
Road connectivity is often hailed as a pathway to prosperity and development. But, the TMC regime has constantly failed in providing good quality road network in the state. Only 15 per cent of the total roads in the state are surfaced since 2017. Bengal ranks a lowly 14th out of the 31 states and UTs in terms of length of state highways.
Cities also play a crucial role in the growth and act as drivers of development. However, the TMC government has turned a blind eye to the pathetic state of cities in Bengal. It has failed to utilise the 30 per cent of the total funds released by the centre under the Smart Cities Mission and AMRUT.
TMC’s betrayal of trust of the West Bengal farmers
Far from helping farmers, the Mamata Banerjee government in West Bengal has worked against their interests. The TMC government did not allow PM KISAN in the state, depriving over 70 lakh farmers in the state from receiving an annual support amount of Rs 6,000. Instead, an alternative of PM KISAN was announced but it was poorly implemented, with over 35 per cent of the farmers eligible for the scheme left out.
The TMC government also denied the MSP bonus for paddy to the farmers. It replaced Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana with an inferior state scheme that covered far fewer crops and was shoddily implemented.
The agri-infrastructure is also in poor shape in West Bengal. The state lacks irrigation facility in 45 per cent of the arable land and due to deficient cold storage facilities, a large portion of agriculture produce is laid to waste.
The West Bengal government has failed in enhancing the income of farmers. According to survey by NABARD, Bengal ranked a lowly 24th out of 29th in terms of average monthly income for agriculture households.
TMC failed in empowering and protecting the women of the state
The TMC government in West Bengal also has a poor track record in empowering and protecting the women. It recorded third-highest number of cases against women in 2018. The state also recorded highest number of acid attack against women in the entire country in 2018.
Even the conviction rate of accused caused in a crime against women is abysmally low. While nationally it is 23 per cent, in West Bengal, the conviction rate is around 5 per cent.
Contrary to the TMC’s claims regarding employment provided to women in the state, West Bengal has one of the lowest labour force participation rates(LFPR) in the country.
Unprecedented growth in unemployment during the TMC rule
There has been an unprecedented growth of unemployment under the TMC rule. Between October 2016 to 2020, unemployment in West Bengal has grown by an astounding 217 per cent.
The poor employment meant that lakhs of West Bengal residents had to leave the state in search of jobs elsewhere. In the times of COVID-19, about 10.5 lakh Bengali migrant workers returned to the state, compared to 5.8 lakh as per Census 2001 and 2011.
Besides, West Bengal also has the highest percentage of delayed MGNREGA payments and it is plagued by TMC’s cut-money across the state, where workers are forced to pay hefty sums to avail work under the scheme.