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‘Guest’ Debasree

Raidighi, Feb. 22: Mamata Banerjee today referred to Trinamul MLA Debasree Roy as “our guest” at a programme in the actress’s constituency and assured the gathering that the absence or presence of the elected representative would not come in the way of development.

“CPM leaders want to know what Debasree Roy has done. She is our guest. She is an artiste and cannot be expected to perform like a politician. She has won from Raidighi (in South 24-Parganas). That is why we are building stadia and bridges here, increasing the number of beds in the (local) hospital and giving cycles and power-tillers,” the chief minister told the 30,000-strong crowd at the Raidighi Sports Complex, sharing the dais with Roy.

Some residents and local Trinamul leaders The Telegraph spoke to said they were unhappy with Roy as she “hardly visited the constituency”.

Before defending Roy, Mamata announced that the number of beds at the Raidighi rural hospital would be doubled to 100. She added that work on the unfinished bridge at Sonatikati would be completed and Rs 1 crore from the MPLAD fund would be allotted for the beautification of Raidighi.

Mamata’s decision to field Roy against CPM heavyweight and then Sunderbans development minister Kanti Ganguly from the Raidighi seat in the 2011 Assembly elections had surprised many. Roy defeated Ganguly by 5,553 votes.

Uttam Pramanik, a resident of Deuler Jota in Raidighi, alleged that Roy did not visit the constituency regularly and it was “difficult to reach her” during emergencies. “She comes every two-three months for a few hours,” said Pramanik, a Trinamul supporter.

A section of the local Trinamul leaders admitted that Ganguly had been “more visible” in the area when he was the MLA.

Bhagaban Adhikari, a local Trinamul leader who co-ordinates with Roy, contested the allegations. “Housing, electrification, drinking water and road projects have been taken up in the past two-and-a-half years. She (Roy) gave funds from the MLALAD fund to build 422 houses. These are all baseless allegations,” he said.

Former minister Ganguly said: “Old roads are being repaired and shown as new ones. I have nothing to say. People have seen what we had done and what is being done now.”