Hours before the campaigning for the final round of panchayat elections concluded, chief minister Mamata Banerjee on Tuesday promised a separate health scheme for more than 2.5 lakh tea garden workers in North Bengal.
Addressing two election rallies at Falakata and Dhupguri in Jalpaiguri district, the chief minister also promised to create a new Alipurduar district after the panchayat election is over.
Four districts in North Bengal — Coochbehar, Jalpaiguri, North Dinajpur and South Dinajpur — are going for the final leg of polls on Thursday.
In both the meetings, Banerjee took to task the UPA government and alleged the Congress-led Union government for ignoring the interest of West Bengal and cited bad road conditions of North Bengal as testimony of her claim.
The CM, who asked the voters to vote for development and peace, also cited the examples of Jangalmahal and Darjeeling Hills where she claimed to have brought peace after years of unrest.
In a bid to associate herself with commoners, Banerjee said that she was not afraid of traveling through bad roads to reach Falakata through NH-31D which is in a bad shape.
“When people of North Bengal can travel regularly through bad roads maintained by the NHAI, I can do the same,” she said.
The NH-31D, a part of EastWest Corridor, has always been the subject of controversy between the state government and the NHAI.
While the former says that the requisite land on both sides of the road could not be acquired, the state government accuses the authority for not taking up maintenance work.
Today the chief minister said that the land along nine-kilometer stretch of NH-31D is yet to be acquired.
However, it also claims that 80% of the requisite land in North Bengal is yet to be acquired and this is not possible without the help of the state government.
The TMC’s organisation is still weak in tea garden belts of Jalpaiguri and the party is set to face a tough challenge from the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha and Jharkhand Mukti Morcha.
She also promised that Alipurduar would be made a separate district after the panchayat elections. Alipurduar is now one of the sub-divisions of Jalpaiguri district.
Banerjee, on Tuesday, said, “The process has already started.” She also promised an IT hub for Jalpaiguri and three multi-specialty hospitals in Jalpaiguri district.