Piyush Goyal inaugurates Metro line in Kolkata, no invite to Mamata Banerjee

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Union Railway Minister Piyush Goyal and MoS Environment, Forest & Climate Change Babul Supriyo at the inauguration of the East West Metro Corridor’s first phase in Kolkata. (Express photo by Partha Paul)

Railway Minister Piyush Goyal and his cabinet colleague Babul Supriyo on Thursday inaugurated the first phase of the East-West Metro corridor in Kolkata connecting Sector V with Salt Lake Stadium. The ruling Trinamool Congress, however, boycotted the event, saying the Centre did not invite Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee.

Dedicating the first phase to freedom fighter Sarojini Naidu on her birth anniversary, Goyal said, “West Bengal is a land of Jan Sangh founder Syama Prasad Mookerjee. It is the land of Aurobindo, Swami Vivekananda, Bankim Chandra Chatterjee and so many freedom fighters, scientists and people from art and culture. It is a land of the nightingale of India and freedom fighter Sarojini Naidu... It is a very nice coincidence when we are dedicating this first part of the East-West metro corridor to her.”

He also said that the entire stretch of the East-West Metro corridor will be completed in two years. “The first underground station — Phoolbagan — will be ready before Durga Puja and will be connected to the first phase metro. If we get better coordination and local support, we will try to complete the corridor sooner up to Howrah. However, there are a few obstacles that are slowing work. At some places, we need to have better coordination with the state government. I hope we will get their support and we will soon make Kolkata Metro a preferred mode of transport,” said Goyal.

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The trial run of Metro on the eve of the inauguration of East-West Metro line at Salt Lake near Kolkata on Wednesday

Meanwhile, senior TMC MP Kakoli Ghosh Dastidar, state Fire Services Minister Sujit Bose and Bidhanagar Municipal Corporation chairperson Krishna Chakraborty, who were invited, boycotted the event.

“The East-West Metro corridor project was the brainchild of Mamata Banerjee when she was the Railway Minister from 2009-2011. It was Mamata Banerjee who had sanctioned the money in the Railways budget. Now, when the project is being inaugurated, she has not been invited. This is an insult to her and the people of Bengal,” said TMC MP Dastidar.

Minister Bose said, “Why should we attend the event when our CM has not been invited? This is nothing but petty politics.”

Kolkata Mayor and state Urban Development Minister Firhad Hakim criticised the Railways for not inviting the CM. “State Urban Development Department has been working on this project with the Centre. Today, it is surprising to see that the person who was instrumental in creating this project was denied an invitation. This was done intentionally,” said Hakim.

Sources said that Railway officials had invited the chief minister for the event. The invitation card for the event, however, did not mention Mamata Banerjee’s name as one of the guests.

State BJP president Dilip Ghosh said that the TMC was “paying for its past sins”.

“During the Left Front rule, Mamata Banerjee as the Railways Minister did not invite then Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharya, on several occasions... If you ask me, then the Railways have done the right thing by not inviting Mamata,” said Ghosh.

The 5.3-km-long corridor has six stations in the first phase. Commercial services will commence from Friday.