In an attempt to popularise Centre’s efforts to empower the backward regions, a team of Congress leaders, including four Union Ministers, visited Maoist-infested Lalgarh in the West Midnapore district of West Bengal on Saturday.
Keeping in mind the crucial up-coming Panchayat polls, the Bengal unit of the Congress seems to be making maximum mileage out of Mamata Banerjee’s unfulfilled promises.
Union Minister for Rural Development Jairam Ramesh, Union Ministers of State Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, Deepa Dasmunsi and Abu Hasem Khan Choudhury, West Bengal Pradesh Congress Committee (WBPCC) president Pradip Bhattacharya and former state Minister and MLA Manas Bhunia took part in the rally.
The Congress alleged that Mamata failed to bring about any real development in the region and criticised the under-implementation of Central schemes in Jangalmahal, especially the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA).
“I have earlier said that the Congress had not taken the political VRS yet. There has been a new vitality in the Congress since the TMC left. The districts in West Bengal’s Jangalmahal had been under the Maoists’ control. But, over the past three years, the situation has undergone a sea change with the help of the Central funds,” said Jairam Ramesh.
The minister, who had recently hailed Didi’s “political courage” to fight the Maoists, minced no words to criticise the TMC for its campaign against the Congress. “We are willing to hold talks with the rebels. Our door is always open for them. We want overall development in West Bengal,” said Ramesh adding that `2,700 crore was given to the state under the MGNREGA and approved 5,500 km of roads in Bankura and Purulia districts.
Chowdhury, who is the Union MoS for the Railways, said that while the TMC had announced railway projects, there had been no fund allocation for them. He also questioned the state government’s failure to utilise the Central funds.
“The TMC is the B-team of both the CPM and the BJP. If you want to save Bengal then speak to the Centre,” said Dasmunsi.
The TMC is all set to hold a counter-rally in Lalgarh on Sunday.