KOLKATA: Taking a dig at the Trinamool chief Mamata Banerjee, External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee said development should be kept above party politics. He was referring to Banerjee’s criticism that he was strengthening the CPI(M) by sharing the dias with Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee at various occasions.
Mukherjee was speaking at the foundation ceremony of the East West Metro Corridor project near Yubabharati Krirangan at Bidhan Nagar on Sunday. He was the chief guest while Bhattacharjee laid the foundation stone of the project.
“All developmental work should be kept out of narrow political interests. Some people oppose development for their selfish gains. This is most unfortunate,” said Mukherjee. At the Jangipur rally in Murshidabad district on Saturday, Mukherjee had slammed Banerjee that she could face the same opposition for development projects once she became the chief minister. “Kolkata got the first Metro in the country. This 15 km-corridor will also be the first in the country. History does not forgive people who oppose development,” Bhattacharjee said on Sunday.
Later in the day, Partha Chatterjee, the leader of the Opposition in the Assembly, said Mukherjee was siding up with the CPI(M) against the people of Bengal. Chatterjee was speaking to media at Banerjee’s Kalighat residence, where, incidentally, the Trinamool chief was not present. “Bengal’s hero (Mukherjee) is acting as the votary of the CPI(M). Where was he when people were killed in Nandigram or Tapasi Malik was killed in Singur? He is not with the people of Bengal but with the CPI(M),” said Chatterjee.
Labeling Mukherjee as CPI(M)’s mouthpiece, he said both Mukherjee and the CPI(M) are rushing to lay the foundation of various projects before the elections. “In the 32 years of CPI(M) rule how many projects have materialised? The Bengal’s hero and Bhattacharjee are going on laying the foundation of one project after another,” he added. “Mukherjee did nothing for the revival of Dunlop and Basumati and did not help PTTI students. But he is keen on helping the CPI(M),” Chatterjee added.
He claimed that the East West corridor project will be a disaster and said: “20 lakh people will be displaced in Kolkata and greater Kolkata by the project. Who will take care of their rehabilitation?” Chatterjee added. When asked whether Mukherjee’s actions will hamper the prospects of Trinamool’s alliance with the Congress, he said: “We will cross the bridge when we come to it.”
Interestingly, Congress workers shared the dias with their Trinamool counterparts while campaigning for the Bishnupur West by-elections on Saturday. In Bishnupur West, the Congress has recently withdrawn its candidate in favour of the Trinamool.