West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and BJP President Amit Shah on Wednesday traded barbs over development in the eastern state, with the former throwing an "open challenge" to anyone to show growth under a "huge" debt burden.
"In agricultural growth, national average is 1.1 per cent while that of Bengal is 6. In service sector, growth in India is 9.2 per cent while in Bengal it is 13.99 per cent and industrial growth in India is 7.3 per cent while in Bengal it is 10.59 per cent," Banerjee told the media in north Bengal's Alipurduar.
Banerjee's comments came hours after Shah presented statistics in Kolkata to buttress his charge that the state had performed poorly on development indices.
"If Bengal is lagging in agricultural growth, how has Bengal received Krishi Karman Award five years in a row from the government of India since 2011? This is my open challenge.
"BJP is jealous of Bengal's progress. We have figures, we do not make false claims," Banerjee asserted after a district administrative meeting.
The Trinamool Congress supremo dared anyone to register a growth on the lines of Bengal, despite the huge debt the state is burdened with.
"With the huge amount of debt, I challenge anyone...if they can show development like this, then I will cut off my ear and give it to them," she said, holding the erstwhile Left Front regime responsible for the debt burden.
Citing the uptick in institutional delivery and the decrease in infant mortality in her state, Banerjee dared the BJP to compare infant mortality figures in Bengal with that of Gujarat, where it has been in power for over two decades.
"What Bengal can do, others can't. They have no vision but are giving 'bhaashan' (lectures)," she said in an apparent reference to Shah's virulent criticism of her government.
Shah on Tuesday launched his 15-day "Vistar Yatra" from Naxalbari block -- the cradle of the 50-year-old Maoist movement in India -- in northern West Bengal's Darjeeling district. He termed the Trinamool regime "even worse" than the Left Front's.
In Kolkata, the BJP President on Wednesday highlighted the growth and progress in his party-ruled states and challenged the Bengal government to bring about over 10 per cent growth in the agriculture sector.
"In the states where BJP is ruling, agricultural growth rate is over 10 per cent. I would challenge the state government, which was elected for the second time, to achieve the agricultural growth of over 10 per cent," he said.
He said Bengal's share in the country's development at the time of Independence was 25 per cent and now it stands at a meagre four per cent.
"First under the Left rule and later in Trinamool Congress' rule, Bengal is losing its share in country's development at a fast rate," he said.
The debt on the people of Bengal was Rs 1.52 lakh crore at the time when the Left Front left, while now it had gone up to Rs 3.50 lakh crore, Shah said.
"As for bank deposits, Bengal's share was 18 per cent, which came down to 12.8 per cent during the Left Front rule. The share has now slipped further to 6.3 per cent," Shah alleged.
Blaming the environment in the state for its failure to attract investments, he said: "Less than 2 per cent of foreign direct investments were made (in Bengal)."
He also said that the state government criticised the demonetisation move but failed to check the entry of fake currencies.
(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)