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Joshi threatens to bypass state

Asansol, Aug. 30: Union human resources development minister Murli Manohar Joshi today lashed out at the Left Front government for its “failure to send utilisation certificates for the central funds received by it in the sphere of education during the past five years”.

Addressing the all-India conference of the Trinamul Congress, which began here today, guest-in-chief Joshi said: “We recently asked different states to hand over respective regional engineering colleges (REC) to us for their necessary upgradation. But the CPM-led government has refused to hand over the Durgapur REC to the Centre. This is a totally wrong policy.”

The minister warned that henceforth the Centre would provide funds earmarked for the sarbasiksha prakalpa (education for all) directly to the implementing agencies instead of giving it to the state government.

“We have decided not to send the second instalment until and unless the state government produces the utilisation certificate for the first instalment of funds for the purpose of audit,” Joshi said.

Referring to the Left Front’s opposition to the educational policies of the NDA government, he said: “West Bengal is lagging behind other states in the spheres of education and culture. Out of all states in the country, West Bengal’s position is 17th due to the growing problems of unemployment and illiteracy.”

The minister claimed that there has not been a successful IAS candidate from the state during the past one year.

Joshi, however, rejected a demand from Trinamul leaders for the promulgation of Article 356 in the state to ensure free and fair polls in the future and urged them to work for “a mass upheaval to remove the Marxists from power”. His observation came in the wake of repeated pleas from Trinamul delegates for imposition of President’s rule in the state.

“The Centre cannot resort to any unconstitutional means to dismiss the CPM-led government in Bengal. Trinamul and BJP workers should develop greater unity and fight the Marxists’ misrule and oppression, which reached its apogee during the last panchayat polls. You should also approach the human rights commission whenever the need arises. You must rely on your own strength and the Centre will do the needful later,” Joshi said.

Earlier, Trinamul chief Mamata Banerjee said that the Trinamul-BJP combine will fight the next Lok Sabha elections under the leadership of Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee. She claimed that her party has already entered into an alliance with some other parties like the Biju Janata Dal and the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha.

The conference also adopted a resolution calling for declaration of an “economic emergency in the state” and opposing divestment and withdrawal of subsidies.

The Trinamul put up a show of unity at the conference with Mamata sharing the stage with party MPs Ajit Panja and Sudip Bandopadhyay and other state leaders, including mayor Subrata Mukherjee and leader of the Opposition in the Assembly, Pankaj Banerjee.

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