Days before she presents the budget, railways minister Mamataa Banerjee is making a last-ditch attempt to obtain the government’s clearance to announce special package providing rail connectivity works worth over Rs 30, 000 crores for the seven northeastern states.
Big-ticket projects on Banerjee’s list include the proposed construction of approximately 400 kilometers of new lines from Pancharatna (Jogighopa) to Silchar in Assam.
Banerjee is also pitching for the inclusion of the ambitious rail link between Mirik in West Bengal to Gangtok in Sikkim. The railways minister wants these “socially desirable” schemes to be announced as “national projects”.
She is expected to push her case at a meeting with finance minister Pranab Mukherjee on Tuesday and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Wednesday.
Consumed with ambitions of acquiring status as a national political leader, Banerjee has been striving for greater acceptability in the seven sister states adjoining West Bengal.
The TMC has five legislators in Arunachal and lately won a seat to the Manipur assembly. At one time, the party had won an assembly seat in Assam as well.
An increased TMC presence in these states will enable the party to acquire recognition as a ‘national party”.
This will provide TMC the option of ‘freezing’ of its election symbol, while also bringing other advantages such as allotment of space for a party office in the national capital.
Political parties securing at least 6% of valid votes polled in four or more states and winning at least four seats in the Rajya Sabha from any state or states are eligible for recognition as a national party, Election Commission guidelines say.
“TMC offices are functional in Manipur, Arunachal and Assam, while the process of setting up a unit in Tripura is also being pursued”, party MP Kakoli Ghosh Dastidar said.