| The bus terminus. Picture by Surajit Roy
Malda, April 15: Invitation cards printed under the aegis of the Malda district magistrate (DM) have come under scanner after a minister’s name appeared on it without the latter’s permission.
Not only that, the cards were for a stone-laying ceremony held yesterday, a programme which had already taken place once before, in 2001.
“How could he (the district magistrate) print my name without asking me' I was not even aware of the programme,” said Sailen Sarkar, the parliamentary affairs minister from Malda, whose name figures as a guest on the card. “Besides, how can the government hold a stone-laying ceremony when the foundation stone has already been laid'”
At the centre of the controversy is the central bus terminus, which was named after A.B.A. Ghani Khan Chowdhury on his first death anniversary yesterday. On the occasion, the late Congress leader’s brother and MP from Malda Abu Hasem Khan Chowdhury laid the foundation stone for the terminus a second time. The first was laid in 2001 by then minister of state for transport Sushanta Ghosh.
District magistrate Chittaranjan Das, who had stayed away from yesterday’s programme, said: “I printed the cards at the insistence of the sabhadipati of the Congress-led zilla parishad Goutam Chakrab-orty.” Das claimed that Chakraborty had told him that the minister has agreed to attend the programme.
“It was only after the distribution of the cards that I realised that the minister was unaware of the programme. Neither did I know that the foundation stone had been laid earlier. It was then that I decided to stay away from the function,” Das said.
District secretary of the CPM Jiban Moitra wondered how the foundation stone of the same bus terminus could be laid twice. “Moreover, it is against protocol to print a minister’s name without informing him,” said Moitra.
According to Moitra, a sub-committee had been formed for the construction of the terminus. “But after the Congress came to power in the zilla parishad in 2003 not a single meeting of the committee had been held. More than Rs 1.5 crore for the terminus has been lying unutilised,” the district CPM chief claimed.