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Cong nod to AIIMS protest
- Subrata roots for Kalyani

Subrata Mukherjee

Oct 8: The Congress central leadership today told the Bengal party unit to “go all out” against the Mamata Banerjee government for its reluctance to arrange land for an AIIMS-like hospital in Raiganj because of “mere politics”.

The development comes on a day when state panchayat minister Subrata Mukherjee repeated chief minister Mamata Banerjee’s stand on the issue in Malda: the hospital should come up in Kalyani.

Shakeel Ahmed, the AICC Bengal in-charge, made it clear that the state Congress would “go all out” against the state government to get the super-speciality hospital built in Raiganj, the Lok Sabha constituency of the Congress’s Deepa Das Munshi, who is seen as the key crusader of the demand.

“Azadji (Union health minister Ghulam Nabi Azad) yesterday clarified the union government’s stand of setting up the AIIMS-like hospital at Raiganj perhaps keeping in mind that the Centre had okayed the Raiganj project in 2009. Against this backdrop, I have told Bengal Congress leaders to go all out against the Mamata Banerjee government for trying to scuttle the project in Raiganj by resorting to mere politics,” Ahmed said over the phone from Delhi.

Azad had said in Murshidabad yesterday: “If we set up a super-speciality hospital in West Bengal, we will set it up in Raiganj.”

Ahmed said he would chair an emergency meeting of the state Congress’s extended executive committee on October 12 to work out a “sustained movement” against the Mamata government. “The time has come to launch a sustained movement against the state government to make the masses aware of its anti-people policies,” he said.

Another AICC leader said the high command’s “hard stand” on the state government came after Deepa asked the central leadership to rally behind her.

Deepa, who is in Delhi, said in the afternoon: “While speaking to my AICC leaders during the day, I got the impression that they were convinced that Mamata Banerjee was trying to scuttle the AIIMS-like hospital in Raiganj in order to weaken the Congress in north Bengal. So the AICC’s nod for an all-out fight against the chief minister’s narrow politics is a good thing. We shall take our movement to south Bengal after the October 11 protest in Raiganj.”

Deepa has planned a string of rallies in Calcutta and some districts such as Nadia, Hooghly and Murshidabad after the Pujas. “We shall reach out to the people… to tell them how the chief minister is resorting to narrow politics to scuttle the Raiganj project,” the Congress MP, who is a known Mamata-baiter, added.

In Malda, state minister Subrata said the Congress was being “stubborn” about Raiganj. “I don’t know why Congress leaders are insisting on getting the AIIMS-like hospital in Raiganj when the government has its own land for such a project in Kalyani, which is closer to Calcutta. I want to tell Congress leaders not to play with fire as the state might be deprived of such a super-speciality hospital because of squabbles between us,” he said.