Deepa rides pillion from Rani Rashmoni Avenue to her rally venue at the crossing of BB Ganguly Street and Phears Lane in central Calcutta on Thursday. Picture by Sanjoy Ghosh
Calcutta, Jan. 10: Deepa Das Munshi today paraded 84 North Dinajpur farmers on Calcutta’s streets who, she said, “are willing to give their land” for the proposed AIIMS-like hospital in Raiganj.
“This is a move unlike in Singur that catapulted Mamata Banerjee to power after she consistently mobilised a section of unwilling farmers there against the erstwhile Left Front government’s forcible land acquisition for the Tata Motors car plant,” the Raiganj Congress MP and junior central minister told a rally at the junction of B.B.Ganguly Street and Phears Lane in central Calcutta.
She said “cheap politics” was behind Mamata’s opposition to allow the AIIMS clone to come up in her home town.
“The chief minister is simply doing cheap politics despite the fact that willing farmers have come forward to give land for the Raiganj project. Her sole objective is to ensure that the Congress does not get political mileage out of the project,” she said, waving a piece of paper in which, according to her, were the signatures of all the 84 farmers.
Deepa later told The Telegraph tonight that she might hand over the paper to the chief minister “provided she gives an appointment”. “But the problem is that the chief minister won’t give any time because she is alone anichhuk (unwilling) about the Raiganj project.”
She complained that the police had tried to stop her while she was riding pillion on the motorbike of a party worker to reach the Phears Lane rally from Rani Rashmoni Avenue gathering where senior Congress leaders had gathered under the leadership of state party president Pradip Bhattacharya to march to Writers’ to protest the violence in Bhangar.
“I had to confront policemen who tried to stop me from reaching the Phears Lane venue from the Rashmoni Road Avenue crossing. Since I didn’t want to create any chaos, I walked about 100m on foot and then rode pillion on a bike to reach my destination,” she said.
The police have, however, denied any such exchange between the force and Deepa.
“We have not received any complaint from anyone that she was stopped midway. As far as the police are concerned, there was no such instruction of stopping her,” said Jawed Shamim, joint police commissioner (headquarters). “She went wherever she was headed and there were no issues.”
Congress sources today said over 40,000 people came to Deepa’s rally, but the police gave a more conservative estimate of 10,000.
Deepa told the rally that the Congress would leave no stone unturned to ensure that the AIIMS-like hospital must come up in Raiganj.
The Congress “would go a long way” to ensure that the project must come up. “Today’s Writers’ abhijaan is just a stepping stone towards our bigger movement for the super-speciality hospital in Raiganj. We shall go a long way to see that former Union minister Priya Ranjan Das Munshi’s dream comes true,” she said.
“My husband had conceptualised the project way back in 2004 when he was a cabinet minister in the Union government and this is now my turn to translate this into reality,” she said.
However, the Trinamul leadership did not attach any importance to the Congress’s road show during the day.
“This was a flop show going by today’s turn out in the three Congress rallies across the city. The turnout would not be more than 5000 if the crowd count is taken together in all the three rallies,” said state industries minister Partha Chatterjee.