The Trinamool Congress, Left Front and Congress on Thursday united to protest the Centre’s curtailment of funds for several railway projects in the state. The rare show of unity was prompted by a motion brought in the Assembly by state Education Minister Partha Chatterjee. “We all live in West Bengal. We subscribe to different political parties having different flags, but our sole aim is the overall development of the state and its people. When Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee was the railway minister, she had ushered in widespread development of railways. She had initiated a large number of projects. Later, funds for such projects were curtailed… Not only railway sector, but funds for other sectors have also been curtailed. Since my childhood, I have seen that Centre treats Bengal as its colony. Bengal has always been deprived. It is not a political deprivation, but a deprivation of the people of Bengal,” Chatterjee said.
“In this year’s Budget, there has been no fund allocation for Metro projects in Bengal such as the East-West Metro Railway project… As the ruling party, we had hit the streets when the Centre had decided to stop eight railway routes in the state. Chief minister Mamata Banerjee had written a letter to the Centre in this regard. If the Centre continues to stop funds, we will hit the streets. We will do this to prevent the Centre from curtailing fund allocation for several projects,” he added.
Later, speaking to mediapersons in his Assembly chamber, Chatterjee said, “Today, we adopted a resolution against the curtailment of funds for railway projects in Bengal by the Centre. Through this resolution, we will request the Centre not to deprive Bengal of central funds. It will have to allocate funds for such projects to ensure their timely completion.” Congress MLA and Leader of the Opposition Abdul Mannan said the party supports the motion as it concerns the interests of the state.
Speaking at the Assembly press corner, he said, “We have our differences with the ruling Trinamool Congress but we have found it right to raise our voice against the Centre’s attempts to deprive Bengal of central government funds. It is not a political issue… We are ready to stage a united fight to protect the state’s interests. We do not believe in petty politics.” Echoing the same, Left Front Legislature Party leader Sujan Chakraborty said, “We are supporting the spirit of the motion. This is not a new phenomenon (Centre’s deprivation towards Bengal) and our fight against this will continue. But the state government should maintain consistency… If needed, a joint delegation (ruling party and the Opposition) will have to go to Delhi to raise this issue.”
The BJP, on the other hand, claimed “politics” was being conducted over the issue. State BJP chief Dilip Ghosh said, “This is just plain politics. They need an issue to hit the streets. If you go to Purulia district, you will see a lot of railway projects going on. Those projects which have not received any fund allocation are not operational due to several obstructions. Several projects are not officially approved and several others were announced keeping in view elections, which are not feasible. We do not support this kind of politics.”