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Mamata promises industry, hospitals

Gangarampur (South Dinajpur), April 11: Mamata Banerjee today played the development card, promising industries and hospitals and citing her “achievements” as railway minister to woo voters in Left stronghold South Dinajpur.

“Without having a single (Assembly) seat in South Dinajpur, I have given so much to the district as railway minister. You can well imagine what I will do if the Trinamul Congress wins some constituencies here,” Mamata told a rally in Tapan.

She accused the CPM of not taking any initiative to set up industries in South Dinajpur. “Has the CPM done anything for you? It has not done anything in the 34 years that it has been in power. If we come to power after the elections, we will set up industries here,” Mamata said. The Trinamul chief, however, did not mention any specific plans for the district.

Mamata repeated the development theme in the back-to-back rallies she addressed in Tapan, Harirampur, Gangarampur, Kumargunj and Balurghat.

She alleged that the Left Front government had “failed” in all sectors — “irrigation to health, ration system to job guarantee schemes”.

“The government has failed in all spheres. The district’s healthcare system is in a shambles. Critically ill patients have to be taken to Calcutta for treatment. If Trinamul forms the government, we will establish multi-speciality hospitals in all districts across Bengal,” Mamata said.

She said there were no irrigation facilities in South Dinajpur and “farmers have no option but to depend on rain”.

Mamata highlighted the “achievements” of the railways under her leadership. She mentioned the new railway links between Eklakhi-Balurghat and Itahar and Hili. She also spoke about the proposed wagon-manufacturing unit at Buniyadpur.

A senior Trinamul leader said Mamata was “banking heavily” on her performance as railway minister and the projects she had announced for north Bengal to see her through in the Assembly polls. “She is very keen on a special package for north Bengal. An improved result here (in the Assembly polls) will strengthen her hold over the entire state,” the leader said.

Mamata reminded the voters in South Dinajpur that she had “stood by them” in times of trouble. “I was here when police opened fire at Kumarganj. I defended students in court when they were arrested. I know all these places,” Mamata said, referring to the death of a student in police firing in 1993.

The cops had allegedly fired at students of R.N. High School protesting “police inaction” over the murder of a headmaster. Partha Singha Roy was killed and many students were arrested.

Mamata, who was Youth Congress president then, had rushed to Kumarganj and was part of a team of lawyers that moved the bail petition for the students.

At the rally in Gangarampur today, Mamata said she would “not be able to solve the problems of the people here” if her party did not have an MLA from the area. “If we form the government, we can solve your problems but without any MLAs from your areas, there won’t be anybody to inform me about your problems,” she said.

Trinamul is contesting five of the six Assembly seats in South Dinajpur. The party candidates from these constituencies — Bachu Hansda (Tapan), Biplab Mitra (Harirmpur), Satyen Roy (Gangarampur), Mamuda Begum (Kumargunj) and Shankar Chakraborty (Balurghat) — attended Mamata’s rallies in their respective areas.

The Congress candidate from Kushsmandi, Parthasarathi Sarkar, attended the Gangarampur rally. Unlike neighbouring Malda and North Dinajpur, Trinamul and the Congress have had no trouble over seat-sharing so far.

The turnout at Mamata’s rallies in South Dinajpur was more than that at her public meetings in Malda and North Dinajpur yesterday.

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