Pranab, Buddhadeb share dais, criticise Mamata

February 22nd, 2009 - 7:06 pm ICT by IANS  

Kolkata, Feb 22 (IANS) Ignoring Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee’s calls, senior Congress leader Pranab Mukherjee Sunday shared the dias with West Bengal Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee and, in an oblique reference to her, also berated those who derail the development process “by spreading thorns in the way”.
Mukherjee, the country’s external affairs minister, attended the foundation stone laying ceremony of the East West Metro Corridor Project - a joint venture between the central and state government. The Trinamool leader had two days ago criticised him for attending public functions regarding development projects alongside the ruling communist leaders, with the Lok Sabha polls a few months away.

Mamata had asked Congress heavyweight Mukherjee to skip such public functions, alleging that the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M)-led Left Front government was “using them to hoodwink the public”.

Mukherjee and the chief minister spoke in the same vein to run down the state’s principal opposition leader with whom the Congress is eyeing a Lok Sabha poll tie-up.

Mukherjee Sunday obliquely criticised her for stubbornly opposing development projects in the state, like the Tata Motors’ Nano project.

“In our country there are lot of impediments in the way of development. We are a poor country, and there is shortage of funds. But some of the problems are self-created, then nothing can be more regrettable,” said Mukhejree, a key member of the Congress working committee.

“Development benefits everybody - the state, its people. It’s not in the interest of any person, group or organisation. I firmly believe that till we learn to keep development above our narrow political interests, we cannot go forward,” said the septuagenarian leader, who repeatedly thanked the state government for inviting him for the function.

Mukherjee also said if anybody tries to derail the development process by spreading thorns in the way, then it is “not desirable”.

“Political differences will be there. During the polls, all political parties will go to the people with their policies and views. The people will give their verdict, and everyone has to accept that,” he said, pointing out how democracy has been destroyed in several countries because their democratic fundamentals were not strong.

“I am thankful to the chief minister and Kolkata East West Metro authorities for inviting me to the function. Like the two squirrels, who helped Sri Ramchandra build the bridge to Lanka, I have helped this project in my own way,” Mukherjee said.

The union minister disclosed that he had helped in giving the final nod for the project and extending it by 900 metres as chairman of the Empowered Group of Ministers.

Earlier, the chief minister also attacked the Trinamool supremo, without naming her.

“There are some who are trying to rake up political controversies without rhyme or reason to create hurdles in the development path. History has never forgiven such people,” he said.

Bhattacharjee thanked Mukherjee twice for ensuring central clearance for the project.

Banerjee has carried a sustained campaign against the state government’s bid to acquire agricultural land for setting up industries for the last two and half years, and the shrill pitch of her agitations forced Tata Motors to shift its Nano project to Gujarat, besides making the fate of several other projects uncertain.

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