Time to act
Aug. 20: Mamata Banerjee today said development in the hills was “suffering” because of agitations and that political mandate “should be used for the benefit of the people”, the tenor of the comments contrary to the tough posture she had adopted after the statehood protests restarted.
Without naming the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha, the chief minister said in a Facebook post today: “I respect all my Darjeeling brothers and sisters. I am proud of them. But it is very unfortunate that instead of developmental works, that political party has resorted to agitational programme stalling the development process.”
Governor M.K. Narayanan today said on the sidelines of a programme in Calcutta that he was willing to “mediate” to end the impasse in the Darjeeling hills if he was asked.
In her Facebook post, Mamata wrote that in July 2011, an agreement was signed by the Centre, state and the Morcha to set up the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration and thereafter, elections were held to the GTA Sabha.
“Breaking almost 20 years of non-development of the Hills, a new era of ushering peace and development in Darjeeling began,” she wrote.
The chief minister said because of agitations “every six months”, Darjeeling was suffering. “My government is fully committed to deliver services to the people of the Hills. Then why these agitational programmes every six months? Why this ‘political pollution’? As a result of it, development is suffering, people are suffering, Darjeeling is suffering.”
Mamata, who had earlier set a 72-hour deadline for the Morcha to lift its strike and threatened stern action, said today that funds had been sanctioned to the GTA so that the administrative body could function smoothly and effectively for the welfare of the people.
“Politics is fine. But it should facilitate development, not impede it. The political mandate is there. It should be used for the benefit of the people of Darjeeling. It should not harm them. The ongoing political gimmickry is harming everybody,” the chief minister wrote.
She said people in the hills were not being able to benefit from development schemes because of the agitation. She added students were being “forced to forsake” their studies.
“Some of the damage may be irreversible. Students may lose a year. NREGA funds may lapse. Tea exports from the Hills may fall and be possibly replaced by tea from other countries. Who is to be blamed?” Mamata asked.
Mamata, whose government had announced pay cuts for those employees not attending office during the recent phase of the agitation and arrested over 600 people for alleged violence, said she wanted to make Darjeeling a “dream destination”.
chief minister CRACKS THE WHIP
Time is running out — Mamata Banerjee’s message was loud and clear when she met her cabinet colleagues and senior bureaucrats on Tuesday to review their performance.
It was evident that the chief minister had come prepared for the meeting. She switched on her laptop and spent three hours assessing the performance of each minister, departmental secretary and district magistrate.
For every department, Mamata had a list of projects along with their present status — complete, incomplete and untouched. Towards the end of the meeting at Town Hall, she said she expected a feedback from each department within a week on the unfinished projects.
“Two years have already passed.... People will not wait any more. They are getting impatient. Don’t waste time. Before you know, another Assembly election will come. Finish the projects you have undertaken,” Mamata said.
She told her ministers to do the following:
- Go for corporate partnerships and undertake and complete as many projects as possible under the PPP model
- Deliver on time
- Set deadlines
- Review progress and send reports to the chief secretary
- Do not give excuses for delays, focus on implementation
After the sermons, came the threat. “If I find that any of you are not capable enough to carry out the responsibilities entrusted to you, I will take care of it. Remember that I keep an eye on everyone’s progress,” Mamata said.