The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Mamata finds new ally in JMM

Dhanbad, Sept. 29: The Trinamul Congress today entered into a formal alliance with the JMM to project Sibu Soren as the chief ministerial candidate in the next Assembly elections slated for 2004. The party will also back JMM in the Godda Lok Sabha bypoll scheduled in a couple of months. The alliance was formalised at a rally in Dhanbad today.

To add teeth to her campaign, Trinamul Congress chief Mamata Banerjee said October 1 would be observed as a “black day” in West Bengal to express “solidarity” with those fighting for the revival of the Fertiliser Corporation of India unit at Sindri near Dhanbad.

After having failed to avert the split in the rail zone at Calcutta, the Trinamul Congress chief has also agreed to lend unconditional support for the creation of a new rail zone in Ranchi along with the crusade for the revival of the FCI, Sindri and other ailing industries. She tagged the save-Jharia campaign to her agenda at the last moment.

Addressing a joint rally with JMM chief Sibu Soren, she said the Centre has “cheated” on the rail zone issue. A Cabinet meeting on the matter could have been called, but the “Centre chose to play safe,’’ she added.

Justifying her move, she said, “The number game has now become very important in the current power politics. I never betrayed the NDA. I still have a great respect for Vajpayee. But the BJP humiliated me because it had an upper hand in the number game. But equations keep changing.”

Without taking the name of her arch rival Nitish Kumar, she criticised the failure of the rail administration, which led to the derailment of Rajdhani Express at Rafiganj.

She claimed that she would always “oppose corruption, come what may”.

JMM chief Sibu Soren, on the other hand, argued that the NDA government was ready to spend Rs 1,600 crore for the creation of new rail zones, but did not have Rs 100 crore to revive the ailing fertiliser unit at Sindri. He alleged that the BJP-led governments across the country were fomenting tension in the name of religion, language, place of domicile.

“If Sindri closes down for good, several hundred people will become jobless. If Jharia is evacuated, thousands will become homeless. Dhanbad rail division is the second-largest profit making division in the country and accounts for more than 40 per cent of the country’s earnings through mineral resources. Yet we do not have a new rail zone. The existing industries are also closing down. Somewhere, we have to put an end to all this and we must oppose the BJP’s nefarious gameplan,” Soren said.

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