Malda, Oct. 29: Abu Hasem Khan Choudhury, the new minister of state for health, said his boss Ghulam Nabi Azad has told him that the Centre would buy plots directly from owners in Raiganj if the state does not make land available for the AIIMS-like hospital there.
Abu Hasem, who spoke over phone from Delhi, said he met Azad after yesterday’s swearing-in and spoke about the long-cherished dream of the people of Raiganj to see the AIIMS-like hospital come up there.
“He (Azad) told me if the state government failed to acquire land for the hospital, plots would be directly bought from owners. The health minister has assured me that the super-speciality institute will come up in Raiganj, ” Abu Hasem said today.
The Malda South MP said he spoke to his party and central ministry colleague Adhir Chowdhury today and discussed railway projects for Malda that Mamata Banerjee allegedly put on the backburner when she was the railway minister.
“I told Adhir that my late brother, A.B.A. Ghani Khan Choudhury, had great plans for Malda when he was the railway minister and despite that, many projects have remained unfinished. We had placed a number of demands before Mamata Banerjee, like a stop for the Rajdhani Express at Malda, when she was the railway minister,” Abu Hasem said.
He said “despite accepting the proposals, she did nothing to fulfil the demands. I have told Adhir that now that he is in charge of the railways (Adhir is the minister of state), he should see that the projects are implemented”.
Abu Hasem said Adhir gave him a patient hearing and assured him of all help. “Adhir told me he would sit with me and work for the development of the railways in Murshidabad and Malda. He told me not to worry as there would be no problem in implementing the projects.”
“This is a great opportunity for us to fulfil our long-pending wishes as far as the railways are concerned. People of Malda and the neighbouring North and South Dinajpur travel to south India for medical treatment and we have been demanding a train to the south. Neither Mamata nor her successors paid heed to our demands. I sincerely hope Adhir will take them up,” Abu Hasem said. The Malda South MP said he would re-submit the list of projects (see chart) to Adhir as soon as possible and hoped they would find a place in the next railway budget.
The move to make Abu Hasem, Adhir and Deepa Das Munshi ministers of state is the Congress’s way to send a message to Mamata that it will not surrender its turf in north Bengal and Murshidabad to Trinamul. The ruling party is believed to have made some inroads in north Bengal.
The land for the AIIMS-like hospital has become a sore point between the two parties. Deepa, whose constituency is North Dinajpur’s Raiganj, wants the hospital to come up there. The Trinamul-led government wants to make the hospital in Kalyani, Nadia.
Abu Hasem today said he has invited Adhir and Deepa to Malda on November 1, on Ghani Khan’s birth anniversary.