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Confusion after CM changes trip plan

- Mamata skips train, takes road to Raiganj

Calcutta, Aug. 11: A last-minute change in the travel plan of Mamata Banerjee, who is scheduled to hold meetings in South Dinajpur and Malda tomorrow, had top government officials confused at Nabanna this afternoon.

The chief minister was supposed to board Howrah-NJP Shatabdi Express which leaves Howrah station at 2.15pm today and reaches Malda at 7.30pm. But she did not take the train.

Mamata instead travelled by car to Raiganj, North Dinajpur, and reached around 10.30pm.

This afternoon, half an hour before she was scheduled to catch the train, Mamata marched into Nabanna, confusing officials.

The uncertainty soon spread to the chambers of several secretaries, who are supposed to reach Malda tomorrow morning by the Sealdah-Malda Town Gour Express that departs at 10.35pm. They were not sure if the meetings were to be held.

“We had come to know that she was heading to Howrah station after she left her residence around 1.45pm. But we saw her entering her office. We were in confusion as we did not know whether she cancelled her trip,” said a CMO official.

The home secretary and some CMO officials who were supposed to travel with Mamata had already boarded the Shatabdi and realised minutes before the train left that the chief minister would not join them. “They sent texts asking if the meetings would be held according to schedule, but we told them we were in the dark too,” said another CMO official.

According to sources, the chief minister was about to reach Howrah station around 2pm. When she reached Foreshore Road near Howrah station via Vidyasagar Setu, she told the driver to take a U-turn and went to Nabanna.

“She did not talk to any of us,” said another official.

Soon after police informed the CMO that the chief minister had taken Durgapur Expressway and senior PWD engineers were in a panic.

Engineers in the Burdwan circle of the PWD were busy answering questions from Nabanna about the condition of roads. “We know the chief minister would not take NH34 because of the pathetic condition of the stretch till Nadia. We were not sure which road she would take to reach Murshidabad from where she would take the NH34 as the condition of the road in Murshidabad and Malda is fine,” said an engineer.

Tomorrow, Mamata is supposed to go to Gangarampur, which is 78km from Raiganj, and will hold a meeting with district officials of both Dinajpurs. Later, she will speak at a government event in Gangarampur.

Mamata is then expected to leave for Malda, where she is scheduled to hold a district administration meeting at 6pm. She is expected to stay the night in Malda and leave for Calcutta on August 13 by train.