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Sunday, Oct 20, 2019

Bengal rural polls: Mamata to fight BJP’s ‘appeasement’ slogan with development

To expedite ongoing rural projects and launch new ones, the Bengal government will be using unutilised funds lying with 32 departments.

kolkata Updated: Oct 06, 2017 16:51 IST
Sumanta Ray Chaudhuri
Sumanta Ray Chaudhuri
Hindustan Times
Chief minister Mamata Banerjee will launch new rural development projects in view of the panchayat polls in 2018.
Chief minister Mamata Banerjee will launch new rural development projects in view of the panchayat polls in 2018.(Samir Jana/ HT PHOTO)

Realising that BJP will play the communal card for maximum effect in the three-tier panchayat polls in Bengal next year, chief minister Mamata Banerjee is focusing on development in the rural belts.

In November, the Bengal government will initiate a number of new projects that will continue till the panchayat polls. Results to the rural elections, Trinamool leaders believe, will also influence voters in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.

Read: Forming government in Bengal would be BJP’s ultimate achievement, says Amit Shah

In every election and by-poll held since 2014 the BJP has accused the Trinamool government of “appeasing Muslims” and “taking Hindu votes for granted.” This has helped the BJP increase its vote share in several parts of the state.

To ensure that new projects are not affected by paucity of funds the government has decided to transfer unutilised funds lying with certain departments to the rural development projects.

Read: Party workers being killed in Bengal as TMC is disturbed by our growth: BJP

The finance department has directed 32 departments that are not directly related to rural projects to return unutilised funds.

The money will be used to expedite rural projects. “We have asked 32 departments to transfer unutilized funds to a specific account,” said a senior finance department official.

Departments that will receive this money have also been identified. “Most of the money will go to the panchayat affairs and rural development department which is the nodal agency for implementation of all projects. It is also ahead of other departments as far as fund utilisation is concerned,” said a finance department official. Incidentally, Subrata Mukherjee, one of the closest confidantes of Mamata Banerjee, heads the panchayat department.

Read: Bengal’s countryside bleeds as panchayat polls enter 4th phase

Sources at the state secretariat said a substantial amount of money will go to the power department which has been asked to accelerate rural electrification projects. Power minister Sobhondeb Chattopadhyay was recently praised by the chief minister for utilising funds effectively.

The minority affairs department, which Banerjee heads, and the irrigation department will also receive additional funds.

While addressing an administrative review meeting last month, the chief minister said all pending projects relating to rural development must be completed before panchayat elections.

First Published: Oct 06, 2017 16:43 IST

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