The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Last-ditch bid to avert rail split

New Delhi, Sept. 19: The Trinamul Congress is keeping its fingers crossed with just 10 days remaining for the proposed bifurcation of Eastern Railway on October 1 and no sign of railway minister Nitish Kumar relenting.

There is considerable disquiet within the party on whether or not Mamata Banerjee will finally take a decision to quit the ruling National Democratic Alliance coalition after October 1, with a section of the party refusing to follow Banerjee’s diktat.

As a last-minute effort, Trinamul Congress MP Nitish Sengupta today convened a press conference to appeal to the government to defer implementation of the bifurcation notification till April 1, 2003, when the railways is scheduled to give effect to the creation of other new zones.

The railways should keep in abeyance the bifurcation issue in view of the recent Rajdhani Express accident at Rafiganj that claimed the lives of more than 130 people and instead use the funds for improving passenger safety, he said. Asked if the Trinamul would once again approach the Prime Minister to get the bifurcation deferred, Sengupta said the party would think about it.

At the press conference, on the inauguration of an office for the Trinamul’s Delhi unit at C-3, MS flats, Pandara Park, Sengupta issued a two-page press note stating all those reasons that have been put forward ever since the railway minister announced his decision to carve up Eastern Railway.

Apart from restating the party’s case, the press note emphasised that the Trinamul was not harping on the political aspects of the bifurcation but the economic aspects. “Political aspect is incidental,” he said.

Asked if it was proper for Trinamul MP Sudip Bandopadhyay to host Union minister Pramod Mahajan for tea, to which Mamata Banerjee had objected, terming it a violation of party directive, Sengupta said he did not consider it improper.

“What’s the harm in having tea with someone'” he asked.

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