West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee at Kamakhya temple on Friday. Picture by UB Photos
Guwahati, Aug. 23: Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee today sought to strike an emotional chord with Assam by trying to speak in Assamese and claiming that the state always got priority during her tenure as railway minister.
“Assam ahi bor khusi hoiche (I am very happy to come to Assam),” she said in broken Assamese, as people jostled to get a glimpse of “Didi” during her visit to the famous Kamakhya temple atop the Nilachal hill here this afternoon.
“A total of 22 new trains were introduced in Assam when I was the railway minister. Even the Kamakhya station was developed during my tenure,” Banerjee said, asserting that she had always given adequate attention to the state.
Senior Trinamul leader Mukul Roy and the lone Trinamul MLA in Assam, Dwipen Pathak, accompanied Banerjee, who was clad in her trademark blue-bordered white sari and sported the gamocha she was welcomed with. Priests greeted Mamata who arrived at temple at 2.50pm.
Amid tight security, she offered prayers and spent nearly 50 minutes at the complex.
“The last time I came here, the temple was closed. That’s why I took out time today,” she said, adding that it was a “personal visit”.
The Bengal chief minister refused to answer any “political questions” when reporters asked her about the demands for a separate Kamtapur state.
Mamata also spent some time in the office of the Kamakhya Debutter Board, which is responsible for the management of the temple, and wrote in the visitors’ book.
“She was surprised to see so many mediapersons waiting for her at the temple and inquired who informed them,” temple administrator Riju Prasad Sarma said.
“This is her first visit to the temple after becoming chief minister of West Bengal but she had visited the temple a few times earlier,” Sarma said.
She was welcomed at Lokapriya Gopinath Bordoloi International Airport here around 2.15pm by Assam Trinamul leaders, including Pathak and party general secretary Kailash Sarma.
Security personnel almost went into a tizzy when a Trinamul worker hurled a gamocha at her as soon as she emerged from the airport. She went straight to temple from the airport.
The Assam representatives were told that the party was eyeing seats in Manipur and Assam in the upcoming Lok Sabha elections.
The state unit leaders submitted a detailed report about 14 Lok Sabha seats in Assam to Banerjee and Mukul Roy. “We were told that after going through the report they will invite us to Calcutta. We are hopeful of getting an invitation within a week,” said Kailash Sarma. Mamata flew back to Calcutta at 6pm.