Calcutta, May 18: Agriculture and traditional industry appear to have elbowed information technology out of Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee’s priority list.
With anti-incumbency sweeping out several state governments that laid more stress on hi-tech than village uplift, the ruling communists seem to have reoriented focus.
The chief minister did not agree that it was a shift in policy.
“Rural development and agriculture were two key sectors on which we had given utmost priority and still the two sectors are on the top of our list of priority. Apart from these two sectors, we are now attaching importance to pisciculture, tea industry, jute and engineering, iron and steel industry, chemical and plastic industry and bio-technology. IT comes after all these,” Bhattacharjee told reporters at Writers’ Buildings.
The sixth Left Front government led by Bhattacharjee today completed three years in office. The chief minister, who was in Delhi for the past three days to attend the CPM politburo and central committee meetings, returned to the city today.
His government will overcome the financial crisis it is going through within a year, Bhattacharjee said.
He held Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s government in Delhi responsible for the crisis. “The Centre borrowed money from international agencies at the rate of 5-6 per cent interest but charged the states 12-13 per cent for loans,” he said.
Bhattacharjee also admitted that the Left Front government’s taking over 56 industrial units was a mistake. “Now we have realised it (taking over the units) was our foolishness.”
After the confession, he returned to pinning the blame for the fiscal mess on the Centre. Bhattacharjee opposed the “odd” distribution of share of tax revenue among the Centre and state governments.
“The states collect tax and send it to the Centre but it gives only 27 per cent of the revenue back. We will demand that the tax revenue be shared between the Centre and the states 50-50,” the chief minister said.
Asked about the Marxists’ expectations out of a Congress-led government in Delhi, Bhattacharjee said: “We have demanded that natural gas, coal, telecommunications and bank industry be not be allowed to go to the private sector.
“The former Prime Minister (Vajpayee) was silent over our demand for continuation of the public distribution system. We expect that the Congress-led government will not withdraw subsidy on health, education and the public distribution system for the benefit of the poor.”