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Mamata keeps rail row going

Calcutta, Aug. 28: No matter how many times and how bluntly the NDA government tells her that it is a “closed chapter”, Trinamul Congress leader Mamata Banerjee seems determined to go on flogging the issue of bifurcation of railway zones.

Two days after Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee made it clear to chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee that the NDA’s decision on bifurcation will not be altered, Mamata today unveiled plans to mobilise public opinion against the split by organising a convention of railway experts in the city on September 7.

Discussions at the convention — expected to be attended by a few former railway board chairmen — will also seek to devise ways to sensitise the Centre to the likely ill-effects of the planned splitting of zones, Trinamul leaders said.

“The experts present at the convention will help chalk out plans for an alternative arrangement against the proposed railway bifurcation,” Mamata told a rally, organised by the Trinamul Congress Chhatra Parishad to mark its foundation day, this afternoon.

The convention assumes significance as this will coincide with a two-day conclave of BJP workers from northeastern states, beginning the same day at the Netaji Indoor Stadium. Several key BJP central leaders, including L.K. Advani, Pramod Mahajan and party president Venkaiah Naidu, are expected to attend.

At the rally, Mamata, for the first time, ticked off the state BJP for having a secret understanding with the CPM to step up attacks against Trinamul workers. “Here, the CPM has successfully roped in not only the state Congress, but the state BJP also to corner the Trinamul Congress. If such a situation prevails here, we had better go it alone in Bengal,” she said.

Coming down heavily on the CPM for playing “politics” with students, she said students and teachers as well are being victimised by a “wrong education policy” of the ruling communists here. “Today teachers are not getting their salaries on time as the government here has become bankrupt.”

Unveiling her calendar of programmes, Mamata said she would address a public rally at Santipur on September 13. This would be followed by a string of meetings in the South and North Dinajpur districts of north Bengal.

After a break for a few days in October for the pujas, Trinamul will begin a fresh agitation by the end of the month, which will culminate in a rally at the Brigade Parade Grounds on December 18, Mamata said.

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