After spending two terms in power, any political party repackaging the same promises it made earlier is a default expose of their track record. The Trinamool Congress manifesto released by West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee falls in this category.
If anyone goes by the face value of announcements, Mamata Banerjee’s manifesto may seem so alluring as it promises jobs, farmers’ income, free-ration, quota etc.
Since TMC is seeking re-election for the third term after being in power for 10 long years, the tall promises raise a question – what did the TMC government deliver in all these years? Here is how key promises in the TMC manifesto are not backed by the track record of this government.
On Jobs – See the Fate of the Industries
Promise: The TMC promises creation of 5 lakh jobs every year. For this West Bengal needs industries. Mamata Banerjee says, “We will also set up 10 lakh new MSMEs and 2,000 new big industrial units in the next five years.”
Track record: The 2016 manifesto of TMC had also promised “opening up of floodgates of investments into Bengal”. But the state has seen only modest improvement in state’s ease of doing business ranking since 2015. West Bengal is mid-ranked in FDI inflows. In state-wise FDI inflows between October 2019 and December 2020, West Bengal is ranked 9th.
A report back in 2013 in Business Standard highlighted the fact that though the state quotes many numbers to showcase the investment, they were not realised on the ground.
Delivery of the Public Good
Promise: There are many ‘free’ things promised in TMC manifesto that is supposed to be delivered to the doors of the public. It includes free ration, minimum income etc.
Track record: As far as ration is concerned, many states have earlier unveiled this ‘free food grain’ schemes. Fact of the matter is that it is the central government that bears the lion’s share of cost in procuring food grains. In any case, can the present West Bengal government claim that it has kept the Public Distribution System efficient? While many states are quick to act on ‘One Nation One Ration Card’, TMC government dragged its feet on implementing the scheme.
TMC government’s failure in giving water connection also speaks about its lack of capability in achieving the ‘last-mile connectivity’ and delivering the public good. The 2016 manifesto of TMC had talked about providing 2 crore households with water connection.
But the Jal Jeevan Mission has shown that against the annual target of tap water connections to 55.58 lakh households by March 31st 2021, only 11.35 lakh households or 20.44% of the annual target have been provided in West Bengal, that too under its own Jal Swapna scheme after rejecting the Centre’s Jal Jeevan Mission assistance.
Promise of Financial Assistance to Farmers by Those Who Blocked PM Kisan
Promise: Among the promises in TMC manifesto, it talks about increasing the financial assistance to farmers.
Track record: When the central government started income support initiative under PM Kisan, Mamata Banerjee government deprived its farmers of this opportunity. Only in December 2020 did Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee agree to accept the PM-KISAN scheme. Remember, PM Kisan is not only about a particular amount – beneficiaries are also encouraged to get Kisan Credit Cards and other social security offerings, thereby helping them to avail the benefit of institutionalised finance that prevents exploitation. The dubious approach that the Mamata government followed with regards to this scheme is explained in our article In a Bid to Undermine PM Kisan, TMC Presented Its Own ‘Farm Success Story’, But Facts Intervene…
Also, Mamata Banerjee is one among who oppose farm reforms that give larger market access to farmers which itself increase their income.
Reservation Promise – Changing Tracks
Promise: Explaining the manifesto, CM Mamata Banerjee said, “We shall appoint a Special Task Force to examine and propose OBC status to all the communities which are not recognised as OBCs like Mahishya, Tili, Tamul and Sahas. We will also ask the Government of India to grant ST status to Mahatos”
Track Record: Even in its 2016 manifesto, the TMC had talked about OBC list and reservations, but it played an appeasement approach there. It talked about including even the well-off Muslims in OBC quota.
Now, what has changed to make TMC talk about specific communities?
The answer is- BJP in its poll speeches has already promised OBC status to Hindu castes like Mahishya, Telli which have been denied OBC status and reservation benefits.
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