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Mamata signals rural poll thrust

Purulia, Dec. 3: Chief minister Mamata Banerjee today said the panchayat polls would be held “in the next few months”, a window that suggests elections in the summer as scheduled.

At a rally in Purulia’s Hutmura, Mamata told the gathering of Trinamul supporters to elect the “people’s panchayat”.

“The rural polls would be held in the next few months. Work hard to get the people’s panchayat elected. Say no to the panchayat of goons, harmads and the corrupt. We won’t allow the reign of terror to come back,” Mamata told a 10,000-strong crowd.

Mamata had first hinted on early panchayat polls during the Martyr’s Day rally on July 21. The government had written to the state election commission with the request holding the polls in January end.

“Holding the polls early would not have helped as the new rural bodies cannot take charge till May 2013,” a senior Trinamul leader said. The terms of several panchyats will be over by May.

Mamata today laid the foundation of a number of projects that she had announced in her previous visit, besides new announcements and a promise of 20 lakh new jobs in the state. (See chart)

Mamata’s sops included a dole of Rs 8,000 for electricity connection to run pump sets, replacing the diesel ones and completion of rural electrification work “left half-done” by a central organisation.

She also announced assistance between Rs 10,000 and Rs 45,000 for farmers opting to buy tractors and power-tillers.