Deepa slams CM on hill trouble

Matigara, April 7: Deepa Das Munshi today launched a broadside at the Bengal chief minister, saying the GTA Sabha couldn't function properly because of the state government's interference in the running of the hill body.

The Raiganj MP and the Union minister of state for urban development was echoing the views of the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha while speaking at a party workers' meet at Matigara near here.

"The state government and the chief minister have repeatedly interfered in the affairs of the GTA Sabha. They (GTA representatives) could not function properly because of such interference and so, they approached us seeking our (Congress) intervention. We have helped them meet Union ministers and officials of the home, finance and power departments at the Centre to ensure that the hill body works smoothly without any hindrance," said Deepa, a known Mamata Banerjee-baiter.

She iterated that the Congress didn't want the division of Bengal and took swipe at the chief minister for her alleged empty promises.

"The Congress doesn't want to divide Bengal and is sincerely interested in seeing that development process is expedited in the Darjeeling hills. We want development, not Switzerland, which is one of the several commitments made by the chief minister, which eventually have fallen blank. Our party is not keen on taking political advantage and is not interested in the Darjeeling Lok Sabha seat. There are allegations that I have an eye on the Darjeeling seat but I want to clarify that my place is Raiganj and I will continue to be there."

After assuming charge as the chief minister, Mamata had declared that she would turn the hills into Switzerland. The Raiganj MP spoke about the Darjeeling constituency as Trinamul had recently alleged that the Congress was hobnobbing with the Morcha with an eye on the hill seat.

"We would like to mention that it is not the Congress but Mamata herself, who has been paying regular visits to the hills and making hollow promises. People can easily understand which party or leader is going to the hills with political intentions," said the Union minister.

Deepa claimed that the Centre was taking realistic approach towards the development of the hills, pointing out today's visit of Union minister for rural development Jairam Ramesh to the region.

"We do not believe in making empty promises but want to carry out development. Our ministers are not keen on distributing utensils and secured land tenures but want to implement projects and hold effective discussions which can help the hills," she said.

The state government's delay in holding panchayat polls has also come under attack from Deepa.

"The chief minister has instructed all BDOs (block development officers) of the state to keep contact with her. We perceive it as a primary move to delay or stall the rural polls. Now that the issue has moved to the high court, the Congress has a clear idea of the intentions of Trinamul and the chief minister. The pathetic results of the recent by-polls to three Assembly seats, only one of which was bagged by Trinamul, has left the party leaders worried. They are desperately trying to halt the panchayat polls, fearing pathetic results," Deepa said.

PCC president Pradip Bhattacharya also scoffed at the state government on the hill issue, particularly after the state's decision to deploy CRPF in the hills.

"One cannot establish peace by deploying police and other armed forces (in the hills). Buddhababu had taken this strategy and failed and the Congress believes that by following the same strategy, things would only become complicated," Bhattacharya said.

"It is an issue of identity crisis and the best way to restore peace is through talks. If required, there can be 100 such talks to upkeep peace."

Darjeeling district president Shankar Malakar and PCC leader Omprakash Mishtra were present at the meeting.