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AIIMS joy in Raiganj tied to Sonia

Raiganj, Feb. 7: A declaration of an AIIMS-like hospital in Raiganj attributed to Sonia Gandhi today set off celebrations near the North Dinajpur tow.

Most of the jubilant residents of Panishala were those who had volunteered to give land for the hospital for which Congress MP Deepa Das Munshi has been campaigning.

It could not be confirmed if Sonia Gandhi yesterday mentioned the setting up of the AIIMS clone in Raiganj. She spoke at a public meeting in Palghar, Maharashtra, where she had gone to kick off a health programme for children.

However, a release by the Press Information Bureau, a central agency, mentioned the proposed AIIMS in Raiganj under the heading Rashtriya Bal Swasthya Karyakram launched by Sonia.

“Under the Pradhan Mantri Swasthya Suraksha Yojana, 6 new AIIMS have been established at Bhopal, Bhubaneswar, Jodhpur, Patna, Raipur and Rishikesh…. In Phase II… 2 new AIIMS will come up at Rae Bareli in Uttar Pradesh and Raiganj in West Bengal,” the release said.

The PIB release attributed the lines to “Smt. Gandhi”.

Congress sources said local MP Deepa called up leaders in Raiganj late last night and told them that Sonia was believed to have spoken about AIIMS.

As information reached Raiganj, about 200 residents of Panishala began celebrating with aabir and distributed sweets.

The state government wants to shift the AIIMS clone to Kalyani in Nadia.

Last year, Deepa had paraded in Calcutta 84 farmers from Panishala who were “willing” to give land for the project.

Speaking over phone from Delhi today, Deepa said the UPA chairperson’s statement was a clear indication that the AIIMS clone would not come up anywhere else but Raiganj. She accused Mamata and other Trinamul leaders of trying to create confusion among the people.

“The state government has been acting irrationally and unnecessarily delaying the implementation of the project. The Union health ministry wants to establish an AIIMS in Raiganj and that has been made clear by Union health minister Ghulam Nabi Azad. Yesterday, Madam (Sonia Gandhi) announced the same in Maharashtra and once again we have been vindicated,” Deepa said.