|Deepa with Congress colleague Mala Roy (right) at the party convention in Calcutta on Sunday. Picture by Pabitra Das
Nov. 20: The Trinamul Congress has woken up to the unwitting cost of shifting an AIIMS-like project from Raiganj just to deny dividends to Deepa Das Munshi.
Local Trinamul leaders have decided to approach their leader and chief minister Mamata Banerjee with a plea to retain the hospital in North Dinajpur, Congress MP Deepa’s turf.
The announcement came two days after Sudip Bandopadhyay, the junior health minister at the Centre, said the state government had zeroed in on Nadia for the super-speciality facility. A state government official later said 100 acres had been identified at Kalyani in Nadia.
“A delegation from our district committee will meet the chief minister next month with the demand that the AIIMS-like project should not be shifted out of North Dinajpur,” Trinamul leader and Bengal minister Chowdhury Abdul Karim told a party meeting in Islampur today.
The Trinamul decision comes as a counter to Deepa’s sustained campaign that the state government was out to deprive the people of north Bengal of specialised health care. Land for the hospital has already been identified in Raiganj in North Dinajpur.
“When Deepa campaigned at the block level for five days, Trinamul was silent about the hospital. But people were raising questions. Now they (our leaders) have decided to raise the issue keeping in mind the coming panchayat elections and to ensure that the Congress does not benefit politically,” a Trinamul source said.
Reacting to Bandopadhyay’s statement on Friday, Karim said: “He is a central minister and I don’t want to comment on what he has said. All I can say is that Mamata Banerjee has proposals to build more than one super-speciality hospital in the state and Kalyani is one of them.”
Bandopadhyay appeared to be less categorical today. “As far as the North Dinajpur Trinamul unit’s decision to approach chief minister Mamata Banerjee is concerned, it is between her and the district party unit. The Centre has got nothing to do with this. The Centre will help set up the hospital wherever the state government wants it,” Bandopadhyay said.
Deepa today warned that she would “paralyse north Bengal and not allow government officials to work” if the project was shifted.
“The cabinet had taken a decision in February 2009 and Rs 823 crore had been allotted for the project at Raiganj. The state only had to give land for it. But instead, they want it to come up in Kalyani, which already has two big hospitals. We will beg for the money to buy the land,” she said at a Congress convention in Calcutta.
Karim criticised the role played by Deepa in the campaign against the state government. “I once again request her to meet our chief minister instead of creating confusion,” he said.
The hospital had been proposed two years ago at the behest of former minister and Deepa’s husband, the ailing Priya Ranjan Das Munshi. If the hospital comes up in Raiganj, it will seen as an achievement for Deepa and the Congress in a region where Trinamul is trying to make inroads.