Economist Ashok Lahiri wants to reconnect with his roots in battle for Bengal

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Well-known economist Ashok Lahiri, who has been fielded by the BJP as its candidate for the Balurghat meeting constituency in North Bengal’s Dakshin Dinajpur district, wants to reconnect with his roots by plunging into electoral politics.

The academic-turned-politician, who hails from north Bengal and was a member of the fifteenth Finance Commission until not too long ago, says he thought lengthy and onerous earlier than taking the electoral plunge.

“I had left West Bengal in 1971 (when the Naxal movement was at its peak in the state) as the situation here was not conducive for studies, but I was always mentally present in Bengal… I always had the feeling that I needed to get back to my roots and do some work here,” the BJP nominee stated in an interview with PTI.

  • All
  • West Bengal
  • Tamil Nadu
  • Assam
  • Kerala
  • Puducherry


  • Lahiri, a widely known economist, had earlier served as chief financial advisor in the Ministry of Finance, as chairman of Bandhan Bank, government director of ADB, in addition to working with the World Bank and IMF. Interestingly, he was appointed CEA by the Government of India in 2002 throughout the prime ministership of Atal Behari Vajpayee, and continued even when Dr Manmohan Singh took the reins of the nation.

    Many in the BJP see him as a possible finance minister of the state if the occasion rides to energy, whereas others speculate that his Bengal stint is a precursor to increased positions on the Centre.

    Lahiri, who was earlier named BJP candidate from Alipurduar, had to get replaced by a neighborhood veteran after his candidature led to a revolt by staff of the saffron camp who accused the occasion excessive command of “parachuting a leader on to a safe seat”.

    The soft-spoken tutorial, an alumnus of the Presidency school, nonetheless, took on the Trinamool Congress slogan ‘Khela Hobe’ (Game will occur) and stated, “I do not believe in playing games with people. I feel we need to work for the people here… These are dignified people who want to regain their place of honour.”

    The BJP has been specializing in Bengal’s grievance that it has misplaced its place in the solar, when it was the premier industrial state of the nation in the Fifties and early Nineteen Sixties, in addition to being a pacesetter in schooling and healthcare.

    “I want to focus on three areas in the state – education, health and infrastructure. We need to raise the educational levels in the state, work in healthcare for schemes such as those seeking correct incidence of anemia among expectant mothers,” Lahiri stated.

    “It takes about 18 hours to travel from Kolkata to Siliguri, while the same distance takes about 10 hours in many other places in the country… there is a need to bridge the infrastructure gap,” the economist stated.

    Land acquisition points have slowed the work of widening the very important National Highway-34 right into a four-lane expressway, which connects the port metropolis of Kolkata with Siliguri, the gateway to India’s North East.

    His shut associates say Lahiri, who’s in his late 60s, has agreed to be fielded by the BJP as he felt he must be concerned in working for Bengal’s rejuvenation.

    Lahiri’s ex-colleague and fellow economist Dr Pronab Sen, former chief statistician of India, nonetheless, stated, “I am surprised he took the plunge… I always thought he was a dyed-in-the-wool academic like me.”

    In a much-debated article titled ‘West Bengal from an exterior perspective’, Lahiri had a couple of years in the past drawn a pen image of the state’s economic system, stating that the as soon as affluent, industrialized state is now lagging behind all- India common figures in each financial and social indicators.

    He had ominously identified “the situation is gloomy in both social and physical infrastructure”.

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