Railway programme to project Cong, TC alliance sours

Mukherjee was to attend the programme which was in his Lok Sabha constituency in Murshidabad district but could not do so as his helicopter developed a technical snag in Kolkata.

Last Updated: Dec 15, 2010, 21:50 PM IST

Sagardighi: A programme here meant
to apparently project the Congress-Trinamool alliance ahead of
the assembly elections Wednesday went awry following Union Finance
Minister Pranab Mukherjee failure to turn up and Congress
workers staging a rail roko near the venue demanding some
railway projects.

Mukherjee was to attend the programme which was in his
Lok Sabha constituency in Murshidabad district but could not
do so as his helicopter developed a technical snag in Kolkata.

"Mukherjee cancelled his visit after a technical
problem in the helicopter," Minister of State for Shipping and
Trinamool Congress leader Mukul Roy said.

Trinamool chief Mamata Banerjee was to accompany the
finance minister in the helicopter. Later she left by train.

On the other hand, Congress workers under the
leadership of party MP from the district Adhir Chowdhury, who
is known to be anti-Mamata, blocked railway tracks in
Berhampore a short distance away from Sagardighi where the
Railway Minister held her programme.

In a barb directed at Chowdhury, considered the party
strongman of Murshidabad district, Banerjee vowed to visit the
district more often, though she had not been visiting it in
the interest of her party`s alliance with Congress.

"Before forming the Trinamool Congress, I used to come
to the district frequently. Then I stopped visiting it in the
interest of alliance politics. From today, I will again start
visiting Murshidabad. Nobody knows Murshidabad better than
me," Banerjee said.

"The programme was set up in consultation with Pranab
Mukherjee. But he could not attend as his helicopter developed
snags. I could not reach on time. What to do? I don`t have a
helicopter. But I have come. When I make a promise, I fulfil
it, a hundred per cent," she said.

Chowdhury, on the other hand, told newsmen at
Berhampore that nobody should take the Congress for granted.

"We are talking about alliance in the state. If somebody takes
the Congress for granted they will be mistaken.

"Murshidabad is not my family inheritance, let her
come again and again. I welcome her...," Chowdhury, who did
not attend the function, said.

Chowdhury`s rail blockade received support from the
WBPCC chief Manas Bhunia who said in Kolkata, "The PCC fully
supports the agitation being carried out by Adhir Chowdhury
with Congress workers in support of the demands of the people
of Murshidabad. Adhir, you are our asset. March ahead. The
Congress is with you."

Congress MP from Murshidabad, Mannan Hossain, who
turned up at the function, left after hearing that Mukherjee
would not be attending. No local Congress leader turned up for
the programme and there was no Congress banner on the dais,
which had a profusion of Banerjee`s portraits.

Train services in the Lalgola-Ranaghat section of
Eastern Railway remained disrupted for nearly three hours as a
result of the blockade. It was lifted around 9:30 am after
senior railway officials assured the protesters that their
demands would be looked into.

PTI