West Bengal’s economy seems to be looking pretty healthy in an election year when the ruling Trinamool Congress is scheduled to face its first Assembly polls in April after it wrested power from the Left Front in 2011. The two most important reasons are high agricultural growth and low inflation rate compared to national indicators, says economist Abhirup Sarkar, Chairman of the West Bengal Infrastructure Development Finance Corporation and member of the West Bengal State Planning Board.
The low inflation rate in Bengal is due to two factors, the high production of the food-grains (mainly rice) and the low price of vegetables. “The cost of buying food is very low in Kolkata, compared to other metro cities. Our Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said rightly that you can have a meal comprising daal bhaat for Rs 10 and an egg meal for Rs 25.
The fast growth in the agriculture sector with Bengal topping the country in the production of rice and ample crop of green vegetables are the main reasons for the low cost of food. This keeps the inflation rate (below 3 per cent) down”, Sarkar told Millennium Post.
In the agriculture sector, accounting mainly for rural votes, Bengal’s growth in the last three years has been phenomenal, says Sarkar. The reason behind this is that the farmer’s security has increased with the Mamata Banerjee Government announcing that no land will be forcibly acquired from farmers. This is unlike the Left Front’s policy which saw a huge land movement in Singur and Nandigram.
Another reason for the surge in the farm sector is that rural connectivity has increased. “A better network of roads ensures that farmers can take their produce to the markets directly and are in a better position to the bargain while selling grains and vegetables”, says Sarkar.
Importantly, the State Government buys a huge amount of foodgrain from farmers and hence the movement of rice and other farm products has seen a surge, explains Sarkar.
The popularity of the Trinamool Congress in rural belt, where economic development has taken place, is likely to pay off in the Assembly polls too, sums up Sarkar.