Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee addressed four rallies across South 24-Parganas on Friday and touched on several pressing issues dogging the residents of the Sunderbans.
The feisty leader touched down at Gosaba and subsequently proceeded to Canning, Baruipur, Sonarpur and Bhangar over the course of her whirlwind trip, stressing on the ailing healthcare system and the state of higher education.
Rolling out a litany of promises, the Trinamool chief said that if voted to power, her government would set up a women's college and hospital in Gosaba and upgrade the existing healthcare facilities at Canning and Baruipara so that students would not have to cross rivers or travel miles to get to schools and colleges.
"I am not making airy promises for the sake of polls. I have already sanctioned an extension of the railway link up to Jharkhali and am hopeful of further stretching the network up to Gosaba. With the extension of the railway network, people could henceforth travel directly as far as Delhi and Chennai," said Banerjee. Jayanta Naskar, the Trinamool nominee from Gosaba, shared the dais with the party supremo along with Arnab Roy, the Congress nominee from Basanti.
Addressing a rally at the Canning sports complex, Banerjee said, "If we are voted to power, our government would set up a stadium at Canning." Shyamal Naskar, the Trinamool candidate from Canning, was also present at the event.
Thousands of locals from across the Aila-devastated Bali, Satjelia, Lahiripur and several other islands of Gosaba along the fringes of the mangroves watched in wonder as the helicopter ferrying the Trinamool chief appeared on the horizon and touched down around 1 pm.
The turnout at Kachari Maidan, the venue of Banerjee's rally at Gosaba, was only second to the one witnessed during the visit of former Prime Minister Morarji Desai back in 1978. Desai till date remains the only prime minister to have visited the cluster of islands in the Sunderbans.
A helipad had been arranged on an open field near the Gosaba police station and getting off the copter the Trinamool chief traversed another 1km on foot before reaching the Maidan.