Kolkata confidential

With the Lok Sabha elections imminent,the state government has plunged itself into a development spree. Foundation of one project or the other is being laid every other day.

Written by Express News Service | Kolkata | Published: February 23, 2009 3:19:06 am

With the Lok Sabha elections imminent,the state government has plunged itself into a development spree. Foundation of one project or the other is being laid every other day. Problem is,for the chief minister,who has to be present on every occasion and deliver a speech,it is becoming difficult to keep track of all facts and figures. The other day,while at the function of Light Rail Transit System project,he announced that it was a Rs 6,000 crore project. The fact was highlighted by the media the next day. But it turned out that the project cost was Rs 4,500 crore and the consultancy agency had no choice but to say that the CM had been “misinformed”.

Singur still singes
The Tatas’ leaving Singur seems have made a lasting impression on foreign diplomats. Recently,it was Beth Payne,the US Consul General,who,while speaking at a seminar,got emotional over the issue. The occasion was an interactive session organised by the Bengal Chamber of Commerce. While discussing business prospects of the state with city-based businessmen,Payne got irritated while reacting to an investment prospect from a businessman. “What were you doing to keep the Tatas in West Bengal?” she demanded,going on to add that she challenges them to explain why they failed to keep the Singur plan intact. Later,on the sidelines of the event,she pointed out that the US did not care which political party ruled the state,the only thing that mattered was stability.

Stepped on!
There are many downsides to being a popular politician with simple tastes. That was what Trinamool chief Mamata Banerjee found out recently. And the lesson was painful,to say the least. The politician was holding a rally at Jodhpur Park,where the police had a hard time keeping the crowd at bay. She was surrounded by police constables,when one of the men in uniform accidentally stepped on her chappal-clad foot with his heavy boots. Howling in pain,Banerjee sat down,much to the surprise of all who had yet to figure out what had happened. Didi had to limp for the rest of the day. The policeman was profusely apologetic — which was perhaps why she refrained from blaming the CPM-backed police force for this particular “attack”.

Shutters down
Last week’s cabinet meeting was a stormy one,with most ministers grilling the chief minister as various proposals came up for approval. Thus,if it was minister for sports and transport Subhas Chakraborty questioning the chief minister on the justifiability of the recruitment of 2,000 policemen,the Minister for Prisons and Social Welfare Biswanath Choudhury questioned the government’s reservation policy. Even the juniormost in the cabinet,Minister for madrasa education Abdus Sattar,dared to remind the chief minister of the consequences of regularising 42 posts of contractual college teachers. After an hour,an exasperated chief minister said enough was enough and hurriedly drew the curtains on the cabinet meet.

Liquid crisis
He is the enfant terrible of Kolkata football. PC Lalawmpuia refuses to learn from past mistakes. The result: he has been put up at a rehabilitation clinic to rid him of his alcohol addiction. “The boy is otherwise okay. But once he consumes alcohol,he starts behaving like an insane person,” said Mohun Bagan official Debashis Dutta. Puia’s latest — about 10 days ago — was a drunken brawl at the dead of the night in front of a popular city hotel.
The Bagan management had no option but to take an extreme step. But even that episode was not without drama. Puia played hide and seek with the club officials before he agreed to go the clinic.

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