Though the mega battle in poll-bound West Bengal is between railways minister Mamataa Banerjee and the Left, smaller tussles involving her party and local Congress leaders are taking the cake.
Banerjee’s long-standing rival Deepa Dasmunsi of the Congress went to Rail Bhavan on Tuesday to present her demands for the Rail Budget after the Trinamool Congress accused her of failing to put up a good case for projecting Raiganj Lok Sabha constituency in Uttar Dinajpur district.
However, Mamataa wasn’t there to receive Deepa, who is wife of ailing union minister PR Dasmunsi. Mamataa’s aides told Deepa they would hand over her letter to the railway minister. “I have sent you proposals for Uttar Dinajpur to improve railway services four times but neither I got any acknowledgement nor any reply,” she said in her letter to Mamataa. “But your party leaders are accusing me of not proposing any railway project. This is not true.”
Deepa was irked by Trinamool Congress leaders’ accusation that Uttar Dinajpur didn’t get Mamataa’s attention because she had not done enough to draw her attention to the problems of rail users.
A former actor, Deepa took over PR Dasmunsi’s political mantle since his hospitalisation following a massive stroke and paralysis in 2008. She was elected from the Uttar Dinajpur constituency in 2009.
Deepa’s problems with Mamataa go back to the days when the latter was with the Congress. Local leaders see Deepa emerging as an alternative voice in Bengal’s anti-Left politics, a fact that irks the railways minister.
Last year, Deepa was encouraged by Congress leaders to raise the issue in the Lok Sabha but the railway budget was passed without a debate. “This time, I want to set the record straight. My people don’t have big demands. All they want is facilities which have been denied every year,” said Deepa.