Cyclone Bulbul: Mamata Banerjee to visit affected areas

Bangla Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee would conduct an aerial survey of the areas around Namkhana and Bakkhali in South 24 Parganas, which have been affected by Cyclone Bulbul.

“Due to the severe cyclonic storm Bulbul, I have decided to postpone my North Bengal visit in the coming week. Instead, tomorrow I would take an aerial survey of the affected areas around Namkhana and Bakkhali.

“Later I would take a meeting at Kakdwip with administration to review relief and rehabilitation measures of the cyclone-affected people. I am also planning to visit the cyclone-affected areas of Basirhat of North 24-Parganas on 13 November, 2019,” the Chief Minister tweeted.

She had been monitoring the situation at the control room set up in Nabanna throughout the night.

BJP MP ran away after winning 2014 election: Mamata Banerjee in Darjeeling

Trinamool Chairperson Mamata Banerjee today addressed a public meeting at Darjeeling. She said that the BJP MP ran away after winning in 2014 elections.

Highlights of her speech:

My salute to the Gorkha contingent. They are the pride of the country. They have sacrificed their lives for the country.

It is my humble request to you to cast your vote in favour of GJM-supported Trinamool candidate Amar Singh Rai

I do not come to the Hills only during elections, and run away thereafter. I come here regularly.

In the last seven years, I have come to the Hills more than 100 times

Bimal Gurung supported BJP in the elections. After winning, did SS Ahluwalia come to the Hills?

We had requested the Centre to set up a university in the Hills. They did not. So, we set up the Hill University here

They incite violence and tension in the Hills for political reasons. They don’t want the Hills to prosper

Amar Singh Rai was the MLA of Darjeeling. He is a bhumiputra of the Hills.

We have not brought any candidate from Delhi. They gave a ticket to Ahluwalia, who ran after eating halua.

Their candidate is from Manipur. He will campaign, distribute money and disappear

We set up a committee for industries in Darjeeling. Amar Singh Rai was the Chairman of the committee

We need three-pronged planning for the development of Hills – short-term, mid-term and long-term

Trinamool will play a significant role in the formation of the next government at Centre

Your MP also became a minister at Centre. Did the Hills benefit at all? What did he do for you?

He knew he’d lose from Darjeeling, so he ran away to Bardhaman

Has the BJP President ever visited the Hills by road? Does he know about the local places? He comes via helicopter, gives a speech and goes away

What has the BJP done for the country for five years

We made Kalimpong a new district. An education hub is coming up at Kurseong.

More than 2 crore people lost their jobs in 2017-18. 12,000 farmers committed suicide.

Demonetisation and GST destroyed the economy. Traders and businessmen suffered

They promised to bring back black money from abroad, and deposit Rs 15 lakh in every bank account. Did they do it?

Five years ago he was a chaiwallah. Now he has become chaiwallah. They have not kept their promises

Chowkidar chor hain, jhoota hain, lootera hain.

40 jawans died in Pulwama. He is asking for votes in the names of jawans. The Centre had information from intelligence. It is their responsibility because they did not take any action.

Terrorism has increased by 260% under Modi’s rule. Unemployment is at 45-year high.

In the name of NRC, they want to drive everyone away. Who are they to decide who will stay and who won’t?

Names of 40 lakh people were excluded in the NRC list in Assam. They excluded the names of Gorkhas, Bengalis, Hindus, Muslims, Biharis… everyone.

They brought the Citizenship Amendment Bill. We opposed the Bill in Parliament, because of which it could not be passed

Under this Bill, you will lose your citizenship for five years. If you become a foreigner for five years, what will be your future? It is not certain whether you will get citizenship again.

The country is under threat. Rights and freedom of the people are under threat

Those who raise the voice against the Centre, they send the agencies to intimidate them

Modi made a film on himself; he thinks he is great. A TV channel has been started in his name. They are only doing publicity

In 2014 itself we asked the Centre to include several communities in the Scheduled Tribe list. They did not do it. Now, they are asking votes on this issue

Many tea garden workers suffered during the strike. Many workers do not get salaries on time. Right now, we cannot announce any decision because of the model code of conduct but we will take a humanitarian decision after elections.

We have formed a review committee to look into the matter of giving pattas to long-time residents of tea gardens

We want the identity of Gorkha brothers and sisters to be safeguarded. We want a solution to the issue of Hills

We want bond of friendship and love between Hills and plains.

Bangla shows the way in agricultural growth

Bangla is a largely agricultural economy with 96 per cent of the 7.23 lakh farm families being marginal and small farmers (average size of land holdings being only 0.77 hectare). As an economy that is as heavily dependent on and replenished by agriculture, the current State Government has not only identified its palpable potential but has striven to resurrect it from the destruction left by the preceding governments.

Championing the cause of the farmer and having risen on the manifesto that promised to continue this fight for the rights of the farmers, Trinamool Congress leader and Chief Minister of Bangla, Mamata Banerjee and her Government have introduced a host of reforms, policies and schemes that have been successful in infusing a steady rigour into the agricultural market as well as in all other aspects of the sector.

The expenditure in agriculture and agri-allied sectors has been increased more than six times over the past six fiscal years, from Rs 3,029 crore in 2010-11 to Rs 18,326 crore in 2016-17.

In its 2017 Annual Budget, the Government, recognising the devastating effect of demonetisation on the agriculture sector, allocated Rs 100 crore to a special assistance fund to mitigate the sufferings of affected farmers.

Agricultural income has also, subsequently, increased remarkably. This is depicted best in the increase in farmers’ annual household income from Rs 91,000 in FY 2010-11 to Rs 2.9 lakh in FY 2015-16.

The latter has been achieved by the creation of a robust series of schemes that include:

1. Bengal Fasal Bima Yojana: This is a one-of-its-kind scheme that secures poor farmers from crop losses due to natural calamities. The coverage under this has reached up to 31 lakh farmers, providing security to them in times of crop failure, leading to a more conducive atmosphere for farmers to both invest and function.

2. Public-private partnerships involving the Farmers’ Producers’ Organisations (FPO) and NGOs.

3. Matir Katha: An ICT based agri-extension portal which provides a dynamic platform to disseminate crop solution to farmers at the farm-gate level.

The Agriculture Department of Bangla, working with related departments, has introduced initiatives that address both social and economic challenges. These include:

1. Augmenting of irrigation facilities through water conservation and watershed management;

2. Betterment of marginalised farmers belonging to SC and ST communities and other backward classes;

3. Empowerment of women in agriculture.

Under the ‘Universalisation of Soil Health Card for Farmers’ programme (started in 2015-16 for sustainable management of soil health through soil analysis and issuing Soil Health Cards (SHC) along with advisories to farmers), 53.46 lakh SHCs were distributed till the end of 2017.

The Soil Conservation Wing of the Agriculture Department has undertaken land development and creation of irrigation potential in more than 45,000 hectares.

The agriculture sector in India is largely plagued with problems related to market linkage. In this area, the Bangla Government has been a major advocate of building long-term infrastructure that link producers to markets and can be sold at competitive prices by including a number of competent parties. The State Government has adopted the following measures:

1. Through infrastructure and support building schemes like Amar Fasal Amar Gola for storage and Amar Fasal Amar Gari for transportation, the Government’s aims are meeting their rightful ends.

2. 186 Krishak Bazars (block-level primary markets with physical infrastructure for transactions, storage and packaging of agricultural produce) have been opened, and they are being operationalised for increasing accessibility and connectivity.

In 2017, the Trinamool Congress Government amended the Agriculture Produce Marketing Act to allow the entry of major private players in the trade through a single licence for all markets in order to secure more competitive prices for commodities produced by farmers.

Mamata Banerjee has been relentless in her fight for the rights of farmers. It is not without reason that Bangla has won the Krishi Karman Award five years in a row since 2011.

Through Government sponsored programmes like Mati Utsab and a series of empowering socio-economic schemes, the Trinamool Congress Government has pulled out the agriculture sector of Bangla from its inertia.

Swapner Bhor scheme to provide employment-linked training to Kanyashree beneficiaries

The State Government’s flagship Kanyashree Scheme is now being extended, to provide training to the Kanyashree beneficiaries to make them employable.

Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, who had given the name ‘Kanyashree’ has given the name to this scheme too – Swapner Bhor. Under this scheme, K2-level Kanyashree beneficiaries, that is, those who have crossed the age of 18 years, would be given the technical training.

Giving the above details, the State Women & Social Welfare Minister said that the scheme would be implemented soon. The training would be provided in collaboration with the Technical Education, Training and Skill Development (TET&SD) Department.

The K2-level Kanyashree beneficiaries get Rs 25,000, provided they satisfy two clauses – they should remain unmarried and should continue their studies. Now they would be provided technical training alongside their studies so that they don’t face much trouble getting gainful employment.

The training would be provided as per two categories – technical and mechanical. A K2 beneficiary has to apply online for any one branch, through the State Government’s Kanyashree website.

After the applications are accepted, the applicants would be provided counselling – regarding the course contents, benefits and types of employment opportunities available.

Every course would entail 300 hours of training. The trainees would be given a daily stipend of Rs 50. There are currently around 16 lakh K2 beneficiaries. Beneficiaries in the districts as well as in Kolkata would be given the training.

Source: Bartaman

This is a Govt of agencies, by agencies, for agencies: Mamata Banerjee

Trinamool Congress Chairperson and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee speaks on the challenges she faces and the achievements of her government. Excerpts:

Q: You are heading into a meeting of the Opposition (on August 11). Your slogan BJP Bharat Choro was based on a united Opposition nationwide. Hasn’t Nitish Kumar’s exit dented that?

MB: No, I don’t think so. Because somebody will go, somebody will come. You have Left, Right, some left out. So, it is part and parcel of your politics…In politics, no one is permanent enemy and no one is permanent friend. Sometimes they go out, it is their prerogative, I don’t mind…I don’t think there is any debacle.

Q) Three years into the NDA, there is a perception that the government is popular; the BJP, with its electoral successes, is stronger. And the Opposition more fragmented, weaker.

MB: This government uses Twitter, Facebook, social media, internet like anything…They are spending a lot of money, they have a lot of money for that. These are sponsored projects…If you see from that angle, they are stronger. In my government, I do Twitter on my own. I have no sponsorship, nothing. Even I could use it, but I didn’t…
If you see from the grassroots angle, then people have started saying that (the NDA government) are very arrogant.

The people are scared, they are very much afraid. The businessmen are scared, they are scared. Even you, the press people, I am not saying about you individually…At the end of the day, I don’t think this ‘scare politics’, this ‘agency politics’ will be a success. Because this government has become a government of the (investigative) agencies: agencies of the government, by the government, for the government. The problem is this, if you talk to them quietly, personally, they will say something. But not in public…They will say please don’t allow us to say all this, otherwise I will be raided by the income tax, otherwise CBI will chase me. Otherwise, ED will chase us. So this is the phenomenon nowadays. Look at all the politicians fighting…You tell me…one person you show me, who has been left out? Only those who flatter them are left out…We know we have to face this battle every day. Sometimes, when democracy has to fight with autocracy, what can be done? We have to fight, somebody has to.

Q) You called this a government of the agencies.

MB: I said, people are saying that it is a government of the agencies, by the agencies for the agencies. Because people are scared and afraid. Why will I be afraid, you tell me? If I am in politics, if I am in a democratic movement, I shouldn’t be scared, no? It is my birthright, it is my political right, it is my democratic right, it is my constitutional right…that I must open my mouth…my voice…I can raise my voice. But why, if someone raises their voice, their voice will just be curbed through agencies — this is not proper. Because today someone maybe in government, tomorrow they may not be. This creates a new precedent.

Q) The BJP’s argument is that the government is pursuing the corrupt and there are allegations of corruption against many Opposition leaders. So it’s a battle between the corrupt and the not-corrupt.

MB: This is a mockery of democracy. We have a proverb: Chorer maer boro gola…it’s the mother of the thief who is the loudest…Now those who are really corrupt, they are the ones raising their voice…In Bengali, there is a word, ‘pocket maar’. They pick pockets and they have a gang…this may sound crude but I am just illustrating something. So when they pick someone’s pocket, their gang will shout, ‘pickpocket, pickpocket, pickpocket’. Ultimately, their intention is that the pickpocket should get away…So the BJP’s intention is (to say that) everyone is corrupt except them…But from demonetisation to GST, if you see, it is a case of big, big, big corruption. If you see the defence deals, there is corruption. How do you give all defence deals to a few (firms) from a one particular place…

Q) The BJP accuses you of Muslim appeasement.

MB: I can accuse the BJP of torturing Dalits, Muslims. I am a Hindu, they say she is not a real Hindu. So they are dividing Hindus and Hindus, Muslims and Muslims, they are dividing Dalits and Dalits, they are dividing Christians and Christians. They want to divide India, Bharat bhaag karo, Bharat bhaag banao. We don’t support this. Why will India be divided like this? Ours is a vast country, many languages, many castes, creeds, religions. When I am in the chair, I have only one religion, that is humanity. I have only one religion, that is I have to work for the people and that’s my Constitutional obligation. And I can’t say that when I am in the chair, I have to see only my caste, not see the other caste. I have to give more importance to those who are minorities also. That is our constitutional provision because it is a secular country…
The BJP wants that people should not ask about employment, people shouldn’t ask for bread and butter. People should not ask for relief, people should not ask for social justice. So the only one medicine is there, what medicine? Danga, danga, danga — only communal tension you create…Everyone knows that Abraham Lincoln’s quote: ‘You can fool some of the people, some of the time. You can fool all the people some of the time. But you can’t fool all the people all the time.”

Q) But the BJP is making inroads in West Bengal.

MB: Sometimes, you know, the press has to say something. The CPI(M) is lost. Who will be second, third or fourth? That is not my business…The CPI(M) has a good hobnobbing relationship with the BJP. So a few of their cadres have joined with the BJP. But I don’t think that matters…We are No.1. So who will be two, three or four — that is not my business. Opposition will be there — that is the people’s choice and it is the party’s choice. If I want to divide my vote to another party, what to do? That’s what the CPI(M) is doing, the Congress is also doing that sometimes, in my state.

Q) At the national level, however, the Congress looks very weak. What does that mean for you?

MB: I don’t want to say anything about their internal matters because it won’t look nice…But, of course, when Rajivji, was murdered – since then, Congress has been weakened, no doubt. But Soniaji tried her best and Soniaji is doing her best for the survival of the Congress…She can mix with people, she can stay with all. She is hope for the Congress party, that I believe. That she can lead the Congress…The party is running the government in Karnataka, Punjab, Puducherry…They have some organisation, maybe weak, maybe strong. They have lost but they have a party organisation…from Assam to Manipur, Manipur to UP, UP to Rajasthan, Rajasthan to Bihar, Bihar to MP, they are there. You can’t ignore.

Q) So a strong Congress helps the TMC?

MB: No, I think that TMC will help all regional parties and Congress, also, at the national level because we want that all the regional parties must be together and work as a collective family.

Q) Will there be one leader for the entire Opposition?

MB: Yes, leader means, somebody has to call the meeting, somebody has to coordinate the meeting, somebody has to mix with the people. There must be a grand alliance, there must be a chairman. There must be a convener.
What I said was Congress is a national party, we are also a national party. But they are running three or four governments. What is practical? I have differences in Bengal politics. Congress is fighting a battle along with CPI(M) against me. At times, they are with the BJP, too. So I have to battle with them, but at the national level for the greater interest, I do support them…Even Arvind Kejriwal, why he will be out (of this alliance)? He should be in. For the greater interest, everyone must be together. If CPI(M) is there and I don’t quarrel with them at the national level, because of the greater interest then, maybe, Arvind Kejriwal (can be in too). There may be differences between the Congress (and Kejriwal). But for the greater interest, they can work together.

Q) You mentioned Sonia Gandhi, how’s your rapport with Rahul Gandhi?

MB: I don’t have any problem with Rahul. He is a young boy. He is trying his best, sometimes some people may accept him, some may not. It depends on timing. If you say that under Rahul’s leadership, so many seats were lost…given the situation, I don’t think it’s good that we only blame him for that. I think it is the Congress party’s choice who will be its leader, it is not our choice.

Q) You don’t mind the CPI(M) being a part of the national opposition?

MB: I have no problem. Because I want that for the greater interest, the BJP must go.

Q) This willingness to work with the CPI(M) is a shift from your earlier stand.

MB: No, the CPI(M) is now a very small party. In Bengal, they are totally lost. Kerala and Tripura, they are there. But Kerala also, you know the problem — every day, it is going on. They can’t run the government smoothly. Even Kerala, in the Parliament election, I think Congress will do better. In Kerala, they change every five years…Like DMK and AIADMK. DMK will do just the reverse to that, this is my political analysis. And Tripura also, they are losing, I think so.

Q) Is there a chance for Mamata Banerjee as PM candidate for the Opposition in 2019?

MB: I am nobody. I don’t want anything also. Let me continue as a commoner. But I want that Opposition must be strong. This isn’t about who will be the PM or not. First, let us win the battle, then this matter will come. Let us decide this collectively. The regional parties, let us take them into confidence and we have to lead the regional parties. Regional parties must lead their region and the Congress party, from the Centre, must help the regional party also. Where the Congress is strong, we must help them. Where the regional party is strong, then Congress should help them. That should be the policy. I believe if we can do that, then in 2019, the BJP can get a farewell.

Q) But the BJP, too, has been reaching out to the regional parties.

MB: That’s OK because they are in power. They are breaking the party…They are spending lots of money for that purpose. This is not good for anybody. I am not saying just for BJP, let me be very frank. It is bad for every political party, when I am in power, I want to break the party. The BJP is in power and tomorrow they are not in power, who are supporting them today, they will change their colour within a second…What I can say? They started so many cases against Lalu Prasad, National Herald cases. Arrey bhai, this is also a paper, maybe. Sometimes the political party, a tradition is going on, a political party you don’t touch. Even the BJP wasn’t touched at the time of the Congress rule. Now you are disturbing everyone.
My income tax party? Every year they are doing this, in the name of scrutiny. Every year, it is not scrutiny, they want to threaten us like this, so that we should stop our voice. Now against Lalu Prasad, against P Chidambaram, against Sonia Gandhi, against Rahul Gandhi, against this DMK leadership, this AIADMK leadership, against BJD people, against those who are not supporting them…If you don’t support them, tomorrow there will be an agency. But we, too, must not be hypocrites. A political party can’t change its ideology just like we change saris or clothes.
With the Central government, I am very positive. I am not negative or destructive. I am telling you because I have been in politics for years, if the Central government asks me for any cooperation, in the Central government, I will fully cooperate. But for politics, my ideology is different. Politically, I will criticise. But government to government, I cooperate. Provided they don’t interfere in my federal structure. Now the federal structure is disturbed like anything.

Q) Why do you think Nitish Kumar switched?

MB: Why are you asking, only Nitish, Nitish? Let him do…(his) is a very small party. Now the seats will be divided three ways. BJP will get some seats, Lalu will get some seats, Congress will get some seats and he will get some seats. The chair will be divided.

Q) Are you going to Lalu Prasad’s rally in Patna later this month?

MB: Yes, because Laluji told me three months ago and I have decided to go. Yes, I will go.

Q) Will you request Mayawati to join the rally?

MB: That is Laluji’s rally, he will invite all of them. If all the parties join, I will be very happy. I am going to Ranchi, to attend a tribals’ meeting on August 31.

Q) What do you make of the Gujarat Rajya Sabha election results?

MB: This is like a suspense film. Really horrible, people saw this film live, until late night, till 2 am. It is a big victory for Ahmed Patelji and a big victory against autocracy and a victory of democracy. A defeat of arrogance and, I think, this is also a turning point. Let the Opposition parties and the parties supporting BJP also think twice. I want that everyone should come together. I am not basically against BJP, they are a political party, if they do the good thing, then we will support. They have some good leaders also, I respect. Individually, I have no vendetta or agenda for that.

Q) You have worked with the BJP, what are some of the key differences now?

MB: Atalji was very nice. Atalji was a very sensible man. Even Advaniji also…there were some problems between Atalji and Advaniji, but we never faced any problems. Because that time we worked with Rajnath Singhji, Arun Jaitleyji, Sushma Swarajji and other people also, Venkaiah Naiduji and others. They are very fond of us and we never quarrelled with them. Now I don’t know…Narendra Modiji has not behaved rudely with us, but when we talk…they behave nicely. But the party has too much arrogance.
Q) You have issues with Narendra Modi or the BJP?

MB: He is also from the BJP. I would say it’s (with) the BJP. I don’t have any personal vendetta against anyone.

Q) Have you ever interacted with BJP president Amit Shah?

MB: I don’t know him. I never met him. But I have seen his photograph.

Q) Tea?

MB: Why don’t you, from The Indian Express, arrange for us to have tea. (She laughs)

Q) Now he is coming to Rajya Sabha as MP.

MB: Then Derek (O’Brien) and other people can meet him every day…

Q) Switching subjects, how are your talks with the Centre on the Darjeeling hills agitation?

MB: I have talked to Home Minister Rajnath (Singh)ji many times on the issue and he is always positive. And we discuss the matter because there are so many other angles also. Darjeeling, luckily and fortunately, is one part of my state but it is not the whole of state, it is just one portion. They (the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha) were in power for about five years (as part of the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration) and now when there is an election knocking on the door, they have become very unpopular. Even in the last municipal election, they lost in many seats. So it’s nothing new. If you see Darjeeling history, every 10 years or 15 years or 20 years, they will do this.

Q) So what is the solution?

MB: Solution is peace, solution is development. Solution is let peace be restored, there may be talks, no problem.

Q) Who will you talk to?

MB: If they want to talk, I have no problem. I am not prejudiced, options are always open. We can talk to all the people, no problem. All political parties of Darjeeling, we can talk. We have called for many meetings, they didn’t join. But I don’t support hooliganism or the vandalism. How have they stopped education of children, students? They don’t allow the ration system. My one driver has been burnt, there is torture, burning, looting, arson…They have killed so many people from Panchayat office, to electricity office, to railway station, to bank, they have burnt.
They are getting some encouragement from outside. That the Central government also knows.

Q) What about their ethnic demand for a new state?

MB: It is not an ethnic demand, it is a design…through this design, they collect money and everything. They use arms, they are now using the national flag, they are using the Army dress that they are wearing. They are using foreign communication devices. If they don’t get anything from outside, how are they getting all this?

Q) Are you pointing fingers at China?
MB: I am not referring to China or Nepal or anything. It is for the government of India to find out but, of course, border countries are involved. Because we have documents — some people were caught red-handed and we have the foreign country’s currency, then the foreign communication devices, the mobile connections and also people, who are injured, are just sent to Nepal. Why?

Q) You have flagged this to the Centre?

MB: They know everything. We have already given all information.

Q) There’s a deterioration of relationship with China, tension in Bhutan. West Bengal is surrounded by all the states.

MB: We maintain good relationship with Bhutan and Bangladesh. Foreign policy is something we always support the Central government on…we don’t interfere. But we want that the government of India must keep in touch through all diplomatic channels. Whatever the Government of India feels is good for the country, they will do. We don’t say anything about that.
But in my state, if any problem is there, we have to face the problem. Because if you see Nathu la, if you see Arunachal, Nepal, Bhutan, all these are adjacent to my state and Bangladesh. Siliguri is the Chicken’s neck and that is our problem. That’s why the Central government must be strong to combat the situation. We are ready to extend our cooperation. Here I am, we are very much patriotic and we love our country like anything. It is our motherland. We are not going to compromise on anything.

Q) You spoke about jobs, bread and butter issues. As Chief Minister, what’s the biggest governance challenge in Bengal?

MB: This is the only state, I am proud to say, where we give, full medical treatment to people. Tell me, which other state gives from heart transplantation to kidney transplantation? Full medicine free…Full bed, free treatment, health for all…Of the 90.3 million people in the state, over 8 crore get rice at Rs 2 per kg and atta at Rs 3 per kg…free food, free health, free education. Even for higher education, my Kanyashree project has received the highest UN Public Award. There are 41 lakh girl children in the state. We give them Rs 750 scholarship every month, we give Rs 25,000 when they become 18 years old, if they don’t marry. And we have started for university also. For SC, STs, we have Shikshashree scholarship. For tribals, OBC and minorities, we give scholarships. For minorities also, within the OBC reservation, we gave 97% Muslims the reservation. So they are getting quite good education facilities.
Overall, in 2016-17, the state’s GSDP at constant prices grew by 9.27% in comparison to India’s 7.1%. Industry grew at 7.24% compared to India’s 5.2%; service sector grew at 11.19% against India’s 8.8% as count of GVA.
I am proud to say that 97% families in my total population have been covered by one, two, three even four schemes in Bengal. And this when we have Rs 40,000 crore as debt.

Q) How do you manage the debt with this increased expenditure?

MB: It is the only state where I have already done 300 meetings at the grassroots level. With the state secretariat, we go to the districts, we meet all block-level officers, panchayat samity chairmen, zilla parishad members, local MLAs, MPs…it is true that there is an increase in expenditure for welfare activities. In these meetings, we convey that while development is needed, so is austerity. Today, tax collection is up, growth is up.

Q) There is a common complaint, across cities and towns, even villages, of The Syndicate. Of young unemployed men, TMC supporters, running extortion rackets, harassing citizens. It was there during the CPI(M) time, too, but now it’s full of Trinamool men. When influential people complain, action is taken but not many have the clout to complain.

MB: In the press, media, there is also a syndicate. If one TV channel picks up a news story, irrespective of whether it’s correct or wrong, it will spread like anything. So some section of the press started this rumour.

Q) Do you think it’s an issue?

MB: It was an issue, during the CPI(M) time. Even in our time, some CPI(M) boys, they changed their (affiliation) and they started. But whenever a complaint comes to us, within five minutes, the matter is settled. There are some people, unemployed…it’s not like that in Bengal…but when it comes to 100 days work also, we are No.1…we are trying our best.

Q) You have told your MLAs (to keep a watch on this)?

MB: No, no, our MLAs are not doing that. But if you have a complaint for only 0.1 per cent, it is very minor. But we have sent a message that we are not going to tolerate this and if anything is violated, we immediately arrest them…my TMC MLA, I arrested, even my MPs I arrested and even my local corporation councillor, my panchayat. If there’s any wrongdoing by anybody, I might not take action against the opposition, but I have taken action against my people. So that the message should go, that they should be very disciplined. Charity begins at home, I maintain that.


দিল্লিতে মুখ্যমন্ত্রী তো – চোরের মায়ের বড় গলাঃ মমতা বন্দ্যোপাধ্যায়

‘দেশের বিজেপি বিরোধী আঞ্চলিক শক্তিগুলি একত্রিত হয়ে এককাট্টা আন্দোলনে নামলে ২০১৯সালে বিজেপিকে কেন্দ্রের ক্ষমতা থেকে বিদায় নিতে হবে।’ তার জন্য যদি প্রয়োজন হয়, তা হলে জাতীয় স্তরে বাংলার রাজনীতিতে তাঁর প্রধান শত্রু দুই দল কংগ্রেস ও সিপিএমের সঙ্গেও হাত মিলিয়ে লড়াই করতে আপত্তি নেই তাঁর ।

শুক্রবার দিল্লিতে সোনিয়া গান্ধীর ডাকে সাড়া দিয়ে ১৬টি অবিজেপি রাজনৈতিক দলের বৈঠক থেকে বেরনোর পরে একটি সর্বভারতীয় ইংরেজি দৈনিকে একান্ত সাক্ষাৎকারে এমনই স্পষ্ট ভাষায় নিজের মত জানিয়েছেন বাংলার মুখ্যমন্ত্রী মমতা বন্দ্যোপাধ্যায় । শুধু তাই নয়, তিনি যেভাবে বাংলার রাজনীতিতে কংগ্রেস ও সিপিএমের সঙ্গে শত্রুতাকে একপাশে সরিয়ে রেখে সর্বভারতীয় স্বার্থে লড়াইয়ে রাজি, একইভাবে কংগ্রেসকেও আম আদমি পার্টির সঙ্গে তাদের দন্দ্বকে সরিয়ে রেখে একসঙ্গে লড়ার আহ্বান জানিয়েছেন ।

এরপরেই আরও স্পষ্ট ভাষায় গোটা দেশে বিজেপি বিরোধী এই ‘গ্র্যান্ড অ্যালায়েন্স’ সম্পর্কে তাঁর সহজ ব্লু-প্রিন্ট জনান, ‘সমস্ত আঞ্চলিক দলগুলিকেই তাদের নিজের নিজের রাজ্যে শক্তি বাড়াতে হবে । কংগ্রেসকেও কেন্দ্র থেকে সকলের পাশে দাঁড়াতে হবে । যেখানে কংগ্রেস শক্তিশালী সেখানে আমরা তাদের পাশে দাঁড়াব, আবার যেখানে আঞ্চলিক দলগুলি শক্তিশালী তাদেরকে সাহয্য করতে এগিয়ে আসতে হবে কংগ্রেসকে। তা হলেই আগামী ২০১৯ সালের লোকসভা নির্বাচন হবে বিজেপির ফেয়ারওয়েল।’ তাঁর সঙ্গেই তিনি বলেন, ‘আমাদের রাজ্যে কংগ্রেস তো সিপিএমের সঙ্গে হাত মিলিয়ে আমাদের বিরুদ্ধে লড়াই করছে । কোথাও কোথাও বিজেপি’র সঙ্গেও আমাদের বিরোধিতা করছে । কংগ্রেস যেমন জাতীয় দল, আমরাও জাতীয় দল । তবে ওরা এখনও গোটা কয়েক রাজ্যে সরকার চালাচ্ছে। তাই বাস্তবটাও ভাবতে হবে । জাতীয় রাজনীতিতে একসঙ্গে লড়তে তো কোন সমস্যা নেই। সিপিএমের সঙ্গে আমার এতকালের লড়াই। কিন্তু জাতীয় রাজনীতিতে বৃহত্তর স্বার্থে একসঙ্গে লড়া সম্ভব ।’

তবে এর পাশাপাশিই দশের সমস্ত বিজেপি বিরোধী দলগুলির মধ্যে সবার আগে পারস্পরিক বিশ্বাস, মতের আদানপ্রদানের জন্যে এই প্রস্তাবিত ‘গ্র্যান্ড অ্যালায়েন্স’ বা মহাজোটের একটা ‘স্ট্রাকচারাল মেকানিজম’ ঠিক করা প্রয়োজন । এর সঙ্গেই প্রয়োজন একজন কোনও নেতা বা নেত্রীর। কাউকে না কাউকে তো এই জোটের চেয়ারম্যান হতেই হবে । কাউকে তো বৈঠক ডাকতে হবে ।’ সোনিয়া গান্ধিই এই মহাজোটের নেতা কি না, এই ধরনের কোনও উত্তর সরাসরি না দিলেও, সোনিয়া গান্ধীর নেতৃত্বের ভূয়সী প্রশংসা করেন মমতা। তাঁর সম্পর্কে মমতা বন্দ্যোপাধ্যায় বলেন, ‘রাজীব গান্ধীর হত্যার পরে কংগ্রেস অনেকটাই দুর্বল হয়ে পড়েছিল । একমাত্র উনিই দলটাকে ফের আজকের জায়গায় ফিরিয়ে এনেছেন। কংগ্রেস দলের সবচেয়ে বড় আশার জায়গায় উনিই। নীতিশ কুমার দেশের বিজেপি বিরোধী এই জোট ছেড়ে বেরিয়ে গিয়ে ফের এনডিএ তে ফিরে যাওয়া সম্পর্কে তাঁর মন্তব্য, ‘এটা তো রাজনীতির অঙ্গ। কেউ আসবে আবার কেউ কেউ যাবে। তাতে আমাদের সম্মিলিত আন্দোলনে কোন প্রভাব পড়বে না’।

সবচেয়ে বেশি তিনি সরব হয়েছেন বিজেপি এবং বর্তমানে কেন্দ্রে ক্ষমতাসীন এনডিএ সরকারের দুর্নীতি নিয়েও। বিভিন্ন আঞ্চলিক দলগুলির প্রথম সারির নেতাদের নানা ধরনের দুর্নীতিতে জড়িয়ে পড়ার যে সমস্ত কেন্দ্রীয় বিভিন্ন তদন্তকারী এজেন্সিগুলো করছে এবং বিজেপির তরফেও তোলা হচ্ছে, তা নিয়ে রীতিমতো আক্রমণাত্মক প্রতিক্রিয়া দেন তিনি। তাঁর বক্তব্য, ‘ওরা তো এমন খেলা শুরু করেছে যে ওদেরকে সমর্থন করলে খুব ভালো। ওরা ছাড়া বাকি সকলেই দুর্নীতিগ্রস্ত। ওদেরকে সমর্থন না করলেই কাল দেখবেন আপনার কাছে কোনও না কোন কেন্দ্রীয় এজেন্সি হাজির হয়ে গেছে। আসলে জানেন তো বাংলায় একটা প্রবাদ রয়েছে ‘চোরের মায়ের বড় গলা’। পকেটমারেরা পকেট কাটার পরেই তাদের দলের লোকজন ‘পকেটমারপকেটমার’ বল্র চেঁচাতে শুরু করে। তাতে সকলেই অন্য কোনও লোককে খুঁজতে শুরু করে আর আসল চোর সেই সুযোগে পালিয়ে যায়। বিজেপিও সেইরকমই, বাকি সকলেই চোর, ওরা ছাড়া’।


We will set up a university in Jhargram district in the future: Mamata Banerjee

Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee declared Jhargram the 22nd district of the State today.

On November 28, 2016, the Calcutta High Court had given the necessary permissions to set up three new districts — Kalimpong, Jhargram and Asansol. On the same day, the Chief Minister had announced that the new districts will be “officially” created before Poila Boishakh – the Bengali New Year – which falls on April 15.

Earlier, the Chief Minister had declared Kalimpong as the 21st district of the State, on February 14. A new district, Paschim Bardhaman, comprising the industrial zone of Bardhaman, will be declared the 23rd district of the State on April 7, 2017.

Mamata Banerjee addressed a large crowd during the inauguration ceremony today. The salient points of her speech are sas follows:

  • A long-standing demand of the people have been fulfilled today.
  • The days of violence are gone. Peace reigns in Jhargram now.
  • April 4 will be celebrated as Jhargram Dibas from now.
  • We organise sports tournaments involving the people of Jangalmahal every year.
  • 35,000 youths have been given jobs by the police.
  • 32 lakh SC/ST students receive scholarship under the Shikshashree Scheme.
  • We will set up a university in Jhargram district in the future.
  • We have set up 9 colleges, 6 multi super-speciality hospitals in Jhargram district.
  • One lakh artistes get a monthly stipend of Rs 1,000. We will register one lakh more artistes.
  • We have registered 14,000 new people under the scheme for giving pensions to widows.
  • We have started a pension scheme for kendu leaf collectors.
  • From birth to death, we have a scheme for every phase of life.
  • We have given recognition to the Ol Chiki language.
  • We have distributed 35 lakh bicycles under the Sabuj Sathi Scheme. This year 35 lakh more bicycles will be distributed.
  • We have made healthcare free at Government hospitals. ICDS and ASHA workers have been brought under the coverage of health insurance.
  • We started the scheme of providing rice at Rs 2 per kg from Jangalmahal. Eight crore people are now covered under the Khadya Sathi Scheme.
  • We have done away with khajna (tax) on agricultural land.
  • I again urge the Centre to waive farmers’ loans.
  • We have given land pattas to 3 lakh people.
  • People of Jangalmahal are famous across the country for the chhau dance and for archery.
  • We will set up an archery academy in Jhargram.
  • We have taken up a project worth Rs 500 crore to build check dams.
  • The major share of our revenue is taken away by the Centre to pay off the debt incurred by the Left Front Government.
  • Our youths and students are the future of our country.
  • We will make Bengal the best in the world.



ভবিষ্যতে ঝাড়গ্রামে বিশ্ববিদ্যালয় তৈরী হবেঃ মমতা বন্দ্যোপাধ্যায়

মুখ্যমন্ত্রী মমতা বন্দ্যোপাধ্যায়ের প্রিয় জায়গা জঙ্গলমহল। সেই জঙ্গলমহলের ৮টি ব্লককে নিয়ে পশ্চিম মেদিনীপুর ভেঙে গঠিত হচ্ছে ৩০২৪.৩৮ বর্গ কিলোমিটার আয়তনের পৃথক ঝাড়গ্রাম জেলা। ঝাড়গ্রাম জেলায় রয়েছে ৪ টি বিধানসভাকেন্দ্র- ঝাড়গ্রাম, গোপীবল্লভপুর, নয়াগ্রাম ও বিনপুর।

আজ, মঙ্গলবার দুপুরে ঝাড়গ্রাম রাজ কলেজের মাঠে প্রশাসনিক সভার মঞ্চ থেকে ঝাড়গ্রাম জেলার সূচনা করলেন মুখ্যমন্ত্রী।

জঙ্গলমহলের আদিবাসী-মূলবাসীদের দীর্ঘদিনের দাবি ছিল, অনুন্নত এলাকার সুংসহত উন্নয়নের জন্য পশ্চিম মেদিনীপুর জেলার উত্তর-পশ্চিম অংশকে নিয়ে আলাদা জেলা করা হোক। সেই দাবিকেই মান্যতা দিলেন মুখ্যমন্ত্রী মমতা বন্দ্যোপাধ্যায়।

এর আগে ফেব্রুয়ারী মাসে কালিম্পঙকে রাজ্যের ২১তম জেলা হিসেবে ঘোষণা করেন মুখ্যমন্ত্রী। আগামী ৭ই এপ্রিল বর্ধমান শিল্পাঞ্চল এলাকাকে গঠিত নিয়ে ‘বর্ধমান পশ্চিম’ জেলার সূচনা করবেন মুখ্যমন্ত্রী।


তাঁর বক্তব্যের কিছু বিষয়ঃ

  • আজ আমরা গর্বের সাথে বলি আমাদের নতুন জেলা ঝাড়গ্রাম যা দীর্ঘদিনের মানুষের স্বপ্ন
  • অনেক সাধারণ মানুষ খুন হয়েছেন ঝাড়গ্রাম, লালপাহাড়ি তে। আজ জঙ্গলমহলে শান্তি ফিরিয়ে দিতে পেরে আমি গর্বিত
  • আজ থেকে প্রতি বছর ৪ এপ্রিল ঝাড়গ্রাম দিবস পালন করা হবে
  • জঙ্গলমহলের মানুষদের জন্য প্রতি বছর স্পোর্টস টুর্নামেন্টের আয়োজন করা হয়
  • জঙ্গলমহলের ৩৫ হাজার ছেলেমেয়ে পুলিশে চাকরি পেয়েছে
  • ৩২ লক্ষ তপশিলি ভাই বোনেরা শিক্ষাশ্রীর স্কলারশিপের টাকা পায়
  • ভবিষ্যতে ঝাড়গ্রামের জন্য আমরা নতুন বিশ্ববিদ্যালয় তৈরী করব
  • ঝাড়গ্রাম জেলায় ৯ টি কলেজ, ৬ টি মাল্টি সুপার স্পেশালিটি হাসপাতাল তৈরী হয়েছে
  • এক লক্ষ লোকশিল্পী ১০০০ টাকা মাসিক ভাতা পায়। আরও ১ লক্ষ শিল্পীকে আমরা এই প্রকল্পের আওতায় আনব
  • বিধবা ভাতা প্রকল্পের আওতায় ১৪০০০ মানুষের নাম নথিভুক্ত হয়েছে
  • কেন্দু পাতা সংগ্রহকারীদের জন্য আমরা পেনশন প্রকল্প চালু করেছি
  • জন্ম থেকে মৃত্যু পর্যন্ত আমাদের প্রকল্প আছে
  • অল চিকি ভাষা কে আমরা স্বীকৃতি দিয়েছি
  • সবুজ সাথী প্রকল্পে ৩৫ লক্ষ সাইকেল দিয়েছি। এই বছর আরও ৩৫ লক্ষ সাইকেল দেওয়া হবে
  • সরকারী হাসপাতালে বিনামূল্যে চিকিৎসা পরিষেবা পাওয়া যায়। আইসিডিএস ও আশা কর্মীদের আমরা স্বাস্থ্য বীমার আওতায় এনেছি
  • দু টাকা কেজি চাল প্রকল্প আমরা জঙ্গলমহল থেকেই শুরু করেছিলাম। রাজ্যের ৮ কোটি মানুষ এখন খাদ্য সাথী প্রকল্পের আওতায়
  • কৃষিজমির খাজনা আমরা মুকুব করে দিয়েছি
  • ৩ লক্ষ মানুষকে আমরা জমির পাট্টা দিয়েছি
  • ছৌ নাচ ও তীরন্দাজির জন্য জঙ্গলমহলের মানুষ সারা দেশে জনপ্রিয়
  • ঝাড়গ্রামে আমরা তীরন্দাজির অ্যাকাডেমি তৈরী করব
  • চেক ড্যাম তৈরীর জন্য ৫০০ কোটি টাকার একটি প্রকল্প নেওয়া হয়েছে
  • ছাত্র ও যুবরাই আমাদের দেশের সম্পদ
  • বাংলাকে আমরা বিশ্ব সেরা তৈরী করব



President praises development initiatives of WB CM

President Pranab Mukherjee on Wednesday praised West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee for her “emphasis” on improvement in education, health and infrastructure.

Mukherjee inaugurated the administrative building, an auditorium and a gym at Vidyanagar College in Bishnupur, South 24-Parganas. He had taught political science at the college from 1963 to 1968.

“The chief minister has laid emphasis on three subjects – education, health and infrastructure. This is laudable,” Mukherjee said.

Diamond Harbour MP and Trinamool Youth Congress National President Abhishek Banerjee was present on the occasion.

WB Govt observes Sanskriti Divas on the occasion of Raksha Bandhan

At the initiative of West Bengal Chief Minister Ms Mamata Banerjee, the State Government has decided to celebrate Raksha Bandhan as Sanskriti Divas.

The idea behind this occasion is Rabindranath Tagore’s initiative to promote communal harmony by tying rakhis to Hindus and Muslims as a mark of protest against Partition of Bengal in 1905.

Sanskriti Divas will be observed by the state youth services department at all 341 blocks, 117 municipalities, 5 corporations, 144 wards of KMC, 20 district sadar towns and GTA areas.

The state-level function on the occasion of Raksha Bandhan will be held at Y Road near Metro Channel in Kolkata at 3 PM.

From the state youth services department, rakhis have been sent to each municipal and panchayat office across the state. MLAs and MPs have been asked to attend Raksha Bandhan events in their constituencies.

Apart from the government, Trinamool leaders and workers in every block and sub-division have started reaching out to people with rakhis since morning.

Tweets by Mamata Banerjee on the occasion of Raksha Bandhan:

Still a year left for assembly polls: WB CM

West Bengal Chief Minister Ms Mamata Banerjee on Friday said there was still a year left for the assembly polls.

Presenting the budget speech for the home department in the assembly, she slammed the erstwhile Left Front government and stressed on the development initiated by the ruling Trinamool Congress since coming to power in 2011.

“We have done a lot of work in the past four years and still a lot is to be done. We have one more year till the next elections and we will have to continue ushering in growth and development,” she said.

Slamming the erstwhile Left Front government for plunging the state into a debt trap, WB CM enumerated a host of social security schemes initiated by her government and asserted its commitment towards development.

“With the blessings of the people at large we will come to power again and continue doing the good work.

“From setting up new hospitals, police stations, schools, colleges and training institutes, to bring back the youth of left-wing extremism-affected areas into the mainstream, we have done everything.”

She also rubbished the opposition’s charges of violence during the recent civic polls.

“The polls both at the Kolkata Municipal Corporation and other municipalities were free and peaceful. But the thing due to so many polls, the government is left with little time to work. We had the civic polls, before that we had the panchayat polls and the by elections, so that leaves a government with just two and half years to work (in a five-year tenure),” she added.

The CM’s vision is clear – To make Kolkata the No. 1 city in civic amenities: Abhishek Banerjee

We have reproduced below an interview of Abhishek Banerjee with The Times of India as published on April 17, 2015:

Q: How would you rate the KMC board’s performance?

AB: It has been a great five years for KMC because there have been significant changes which Kolkatans can see and experience. To name a few -modernisation of the sewerage system, renovation of parks, riverfront beautification, healthcare initiatives, better roads, a modern garbage disposal system that rid the city of vats. The macro direction is being given by one per son -chief minister Mamata Banerjee. She understands the needs of people and insights turned into invaluable milestones for KMC


Q: If voted to power, what would you want KMC to focus on?

AB: The KMC, under the mayor’s stewardship and guidance of chief minister Mamata Banerjee, has laid a solid foundation. It is natural that we will build on this in the next five years. As in everything Mamata Banerjee does, specific timelines will be set. The performance of every ward will continue to be closely monitored. The CM’s vision is clear ­ to make Kolkata the number one city in the country in terms of civic amenities. We are heading towards that goal.



Abhishek Banerjee campaigning for KMC elections


Q: You have been personally targeted by BJP on a range of issues, including your postgraduate qualification. Your reaction…

AB: I am just a foot soldier doing a job assigned by the party. I will not let such stray and wild accusations divert me from my goal. There is a lot of work to be done. After 34 years, Bengal is finally on the development track with new vigour. Nothing should distract us from that. We have gone to the people with a solid development agenda but the Opposition has only spread canards. We have full faith the people will give a befitting reply to all allegations.


Q: The ruling party is mostly blamed for the pre-poll violence. How would you react to that?

AB: When the writing is on the wall and you are fighting for the third or fourth place, you have to look for excuses. The administration has acted on complaints. Police don’t vote; neither do rowdies. Citizens do, and they will do it again, peacefully. Excuses are what losers look for.



On the campaign trail…


Q: Do you think the CBI notices on Trinamool and the Saradha scam will deflect public attention from core issues, like development?

AB: I have said this several times in my election rallies. CBI is the Controlled Branch of Investigation of BJP. Parties have used CBI as a political tool in the past; BJP is doing so now. But we will not cow down before CBI, or any other government agency. CBI will also not make Mamata Banerjee change track on the Land Bill.

Trinamool will continue to oppose the anti-poor and anti-farmer Bill. Land has always been part of Trinamool’s DNA. Our party chief had fasted 26 days for this cause. We are against forcible acquisition. However, we do believe that agriculture and industry can co-exist peacefully. Here, Bengal is leading by example.


AB Pro

While campaigning for municipal elections in Kolkata


Q: Trinamool is the only party to have announced its mayoral candidate. The party has been functioning like a well-drilled poll machine…

AB: (Smiles) Please do not refer to us as a poll machine. We are a people-centric party. We work for people though the year. We deliver on promises. People trust us. Yes, I think we ran an organized professional campaign. Don’t grudge us that. The final say is with the people and, of course, we are confident truth and development will prevail.


Q: You have always been a behind the-scenes strategist. Now, you are increasingly becoming the face of the party’s election campaign. How was the transition, personally?

AB: I still consider myself to be a student of politics. I am humbled that the party has given me responsibilities beyond that of an MP. I will continue to work hard and my single minded goal is to serve the people and fulfil their expectations.