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Rivalry whiff in Bratya plot visit

Cooch Behar, April 6: Education minister Bratya Basu today inspected two proposed sites for a university that was announced by the new government as the district Trinamul stood divided over the location of the institution.

Sitalkuchi MLA Hiten Barman wants the university in his constituency but MLA Rabindranath Ghosh has been lobbying for it on his turf, Natabari.

This morning Basu visited one of the proposed plots at Harinchaura on the outskirts of the town along with district magistrate Mohan Gandhi and Ghosh. A part of the plot, about 80km from here, is in Ghosh’s constituency.

Later in the day, Basu also visited the other proposed site at Khalisamari near Mathabhanga close to the Bangladesh border. Khalisamari, 60km from here, is part of the Sitalkuchi constituency.

Although Basu said the state government has announced Rs 25 crore for preliminary work on the university, he did not say where the institution would be set up.

“I have seen the two proposed sites and I have spoken to the district administration. I will report back to chief minister Mamata Banerjee,” said Basu, who visited the district for the first time after becoming a minister.

Told about the debate over the location of the university, he said: “Debates are innate to Bengali character and it can be solved through discussion. The university will come up where the infrastructure is most favourable. There is no debate about that.”

Barman has been openly demanding that the university be set up at Khalisamari in his constituency.

Although Ghosh has not yet made any such claims publicly, sources said the MLA wants the university at Harinchaura, which is part of the Natabari Assembly seat.

Party leaders close to Ghosh, however, said the MLA prefers to have the institution near the town so that students from Assam and the adjacent Jalpaiguri district can study there.