|(From left) Damayanti Sen, DIG (Darjeeling range), at the Mongpong police outpost with chief minister Mamata Banerjee on Tuesday. The police officer was believed to have been shunted out as the first woman detective chief in Calcutta police after she unhesitantly said last year that a woman had been raped on Park Street in the face of Mamata’s claim that the woman’s allegation was “sajano (fabricated)”. Along with officer Sen were two other colleagues — (second from left) Anuj Sharma,
IG (north Bengal), and Kunal Agarwal, the Darjeeling superintendent of police. Picture by Sayantan Ghosh
Mongpong (Darjeeling), March 12: Chief minister Mamata Banerjee today said “differences” ought to be put aside for the sake of development that she promised to bring to north Bengal, especially the hills that had been “neglected” during the Left Front regime.
Arriving at Bagdogra airport this afternoon on a three-day visit to the Dooars, the chief minister refused to answer questions on the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha.
“Everybody is free to align with any political party. I’m with Trinamul, someone might align with CPM, someone else might like Congress. That is not the issue. We must set aside our differences to work together for progress and development,” Mamata said at the airport this afternoon, without naming the Morcha.
The chief minister could have been referring to the conspicuously growing proximity of the Morcha leadership with the Congress. Mamata, according to party sources, was “displeased” with the recent Morcha activities in Delhi, which were facilitated by Union minister of state for urban development Deepa Das Munshi.
The Morcha-Mamata relationship visibly soured after January 29, when a section of Morcha supporters shouted slogans demanding Gorkhaland at her function in Darjeeling, in the presence of Morcha president and GTA Sabha chief executive Bimal Gurung.
Mamata had said “Darjeeling is a part of us”, sparking the protests.
Her decision to set up the Lepcha Development Council under the state government has distanced her further from the Morcha leadership.
Morcha leaders, in a recent meetings with President Pranab Mukherjee in the capital, alleged interference by the state government in the functioning of GTA.
Today, though, Mamata sounded conciliatory. “Economic development is key to happiness. People must stay together for that development. Tourism is a pillar of the economy here. If tourists get the wrong message, they would not come here and the economy will be affected.... The hills were neglected by those before us, now we are trying to turn things around. Everyone ought to cooperate,” she said.
The chief minister went directly to Mongpong, 525km from Calcutta, where she held a series of administrative meetings with district officials from 3.30pm at a forest rest house. She will spend the night there.
“I’m here to oversee the work on the mini-secretariat that I had promised to the people here. Besides, I have some other programmes.... I keep coming back here, because I love this region. The path to prosperity and happiness is through development, which I will bring, for the hills and for the plains. For Darjeeling, Jalpaiguri, Cooch Behar, North Dinajpur, South Dinajpur and Malda,” she said at Bagdogra.
Around 4pm, she took a break from meetings and left the resthouse for a walk along NH31. Around 4.30pm, she returned to Mongpong.