Kolkata: In yet another attempt to score brownie points, Union Railways Minister Mamata Banerjee did not invite West Bengal Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee to a function on Wednesday of the Metro Rail extension in Kolkata.
President Pratibha Patil today laid the foundation stone for the Metro Rail project from Joka to BBD Bagh in Kolkata, in the presence of important dignitaries including Governor MK Narayanan, Mamata Banerjee and Union Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee.
However, CM Bhattacharjee was not invited but surprisingly state’s Transport Minister Ranjit Kundu was given an invitation to attend the function.
"I received no invitation," the Chief Minister was quoted as saying when he was quizzed by reporters if he had been invited by the Railways for the programme at Joka in adjoining South 24 Parganas district.
The Chief Minister also denied having any information about any of his Cabinet colleagues being invited to the programme.
Kundu, who earlier claimed that he had not been invited, stated that an invitation was sent to him at the last minute.
"The invitation letter was delivered at the eleventh hour and there is no question of attending the programme considering the indecent manner in which the invitation has been accorded. It involves the prestige of the state government," Kundu was quoted as saying.
Sources also confirmed that invitation letters to the Chief Secretary and Home Secretary were also delivered in haste and at the eleventh hour.
Whatever one says the incident is yet another indication of a growing friction between the ruling Left Front and the main opposition Trinamool Congress led by Mamata.
The Joka Metro Rail project will connect large areas of neighbouring South 24 Parganas district with BBD Bagh and is part of Banerjee`s plan to expand the network.
The 16.72-kilomtre new stretch will help lakhs of people commute from the extreme south to the central business district. The Metro Railway in Kolkata is the first underground mass rapid transit system in the country and the only one under the Ministry of Railways.
The total estimated cost of the Joka-BBD Bag project that was sanctioned in 2010-11 is Rs 2,619.02 crore. This new route will run overground along Diamond Harbour Road.
The Rail Vikas Nigam Ltd entrusted with commissioning the project has completed the survey and soil testing of the stretch between Joka to Majerhat through RITES.
The tendering process for the project has begun and it should be completed by 2013-14.
RITES, a Government of India Enterprise, provides comprehensive engineering, consultancy and project management services in the transport infrastructure sector under the single roof.
(With ANI inputs)