CM inaugurates Hooghly overbridge, row over ‘snub’ to railway minister

A controversy erupted after Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Friday inaugurated a railway overbridge at Kamarkundu Railway Station in Hooghly “without extending an invitation” to Union Railway Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw for the event.

The Eastern Railway has alleged that the state government “ignored” its letter regarding joint inauguration of the bridge, sources said.

The Eastern Railway had written that it would be “fitting if the Railway Minister jointly inaugurated the bridge with Banerjee,” underlining that 60 per cent of the project cost was borne by the railways.

To the Eastern Railway’s letter, Rs 26.7 crore was assigned by the Railway Ministry and Rs 18.16 crore by the state government for the railway overbridge, sources added.

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The development came days after the Railway Minister attended a ‘Gareeb Kalyan Sammelan’ in Kolkata to mark the completion of eight years of the Narendra Modi government, but the Chief Minister or any senior state ministers were “not invited”.

Speaking at the event, Banerjee said, “I had sanctioned the flyover project when I was the railway minister. It has now been completed, and we inaugurated it today.”

Taking a dig at the Mamata Banerjee government, Leader of Opposition in the state Assembly Suvendu Adhikari said Banerjee conveniently ignored the federal structure in her greed to hog the limelight alone for the development project.

“One who always tries to appear holier-than-thou & preaches about upholding ‘Federal Structure’ of the country, is the same person who doesn’t shy away from strangulating Federal Cooperativeness when it benefits her. Shame on you @MamataOfficial. You are CM – Chief Manipulator. The Flyover that you can see in this ad was constructed at the total cost of Rs. 44.86 Crs. @RailMinIndia Share: Rs. 13.35 Cr. Dedicated Freight Corridor Corporation of India Ltd Share: 13.35 Crs. A Govt of India (Ministry of Railways) Enterprise. WB Govt share: Rs. 18.16 Crs,” tweeted Adhikari.

“This flyover at Kamarkundu; Hooghly district will benefit the people of the area as well as make the commute between Baidyabati & sacred city Tarkeshwar hassle-free. It will get rid of long traffic jams due to closure of gates during train movement & further improve road safety. Constructed by the @EasternRailway & after having spent the lion’s share for the bridge, the Railway authorities didn’t even receive an invitation for the inauguration event. CM @MamataOfficial would unilaterally & unethically inaugurate the bridge today from Singur. She has conveniently ignored the Federal Structure in her greed to hog the limelight alone for the development project. Didn’t even extend the courtesy of inviting the Hon’ble Minister of Railways Sri @AshwiniVaishnaw ji or any other representative of the Central Government,” added Adhikari.

Banerjee, who has always complained about the federal structure being destroyed, did not invite any central government representative during the inauguration of the Kamarkundu road flyover. She has put her own sticker on the whole project … who is destroying the federal structure?” BJP state general secretary Locket Chatterjee tweeted.

Hitting back at Adhikari, Trinamool Congress (TMC) leader Jai Prakash Majumdar said, “Central government bore their share from the taxpayers’ money. They did not pay from their pockets. They take taxes from the states and pay them back. Instead of targeting the state government, Suvendu Adhikari should say that the money from Bengal taxpayers has been used to fund the project. There is nothing wrong in Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee inaugurating the projects being funded by the people of Bengal through their taxes.”

TMC chief spokesperson Sukhendu Sekhar Ray pointed out the BJP had been doing just that – shutting out West Bengal government representatives from project related function which were jointly funded.

“There have been several occasions where union ministers have come to Bengal and inaugurated projects, where the state government too had pumped in funds, but neither the chief minister nor the concerned minister was invited,” Ray said, adding, “The chief minister was well within her rights to inaugurate the project. The state government has provided both land and money for the project.”

He said the BJP should stop talking about courtesy as it is “the saffron camp which has destroyed the culture of courtesy in politics”.

The Chief Minister, meanwhile, announced several projects, including a road project to connect Singur with North Bengal, for Hooghly district. “We will set up agro-industries in Singur and a railway coach manufacturing unit at Uttarpara. A road project will come up which will connect Singur with north Bengal at a cost of Rs 3,000 crore. Many industries will come up. Industry and agriculture will both grow in Singur. You have a bright future,” she said.

Banerjee also offered prayers at the temple of Santoshi Mata which she had built in Singur’s Bajemelia village — once known for Tata Motors’ Nano car plant site. Banerjee said she was visiting the temple for the first time since she had observed a 16-week vow dedicated to the goddess. The temple was completed in 2019.

Recalling her agitation at the former car plant site in 2008, Banerjee said, “I was beaten up violently by the police during the anti-land acquisition movement. Doctors said I would need life-saving medicines. I took a vow to build the temple. I believed that Santoshi Mata’s blessings would help farmers get their land back. She listened to their prayers. Today, I offered puja and also distributed food among children.”

The BJP, on the other hand, slammed the Chief Minister for not being able to industrialize the state. “Mamata Banerjee has no new projects to share and that’s why she keeps referring to the projects she had sanctioned as the Union railway minister. But, how many of those projects have been completed?” asked state BJP spokesperson Samik Bhattacharya.

(With inputs from PTI)

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