Kolkata, 12 Jul: West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee visited Cooch Behar on Wednesday amid heavy rain. It was Banerjee's first visit to the district as the CM. The last time she had visited Cooch Behar was during the election campaign before the 2011 assembly polls. It was thus the first rendezvous between the people of this part with the administrative head and the heavy rain failed to discourage the enthusiastic local citizens from seeing the CM from a close distance.
Banerjee, too, during meeting a public rally, expressed her gratitude. "My brothers and sisters of Cooch Behar, I really feel grateful that you have made it to the rally despite the heavy rain. I must express my deepest gratitude. I have already asked the local administration to keep prepared in case the heavy rain leads to floods," she said.
Cooch Behar is one of the most backward districts in the state. The CM's visit was not only a courtesy visit. She also had the local political reality in mind. Of the nine assembly seats in Cooch Behar, the Trinamool and Forward Bloc have a 4-4 sharing. The remaining one belongs to the Congress. Banerjee knows there is a big scope for improvement in these parts to give a boost to north Bengal as a whole, particularly ahead of the panchayat elections.
The CM laid the foundation of a university in the name of local hero and noted social reformer Thakur Panchanan Barma besides flagging off a number of three new trains and declaring several development projects. The trains include New Cooch Behar-New Jalpaiguri Intercity Express, Bamanhat-New Jalpaiguri-Siliguri DEMU and New Jalpaiguri-Howrah Satabdi Express. Mamata Banerjee inaugurated the trains by remote control from the Cooch Behar Stadium where her rally was being held. Railway minister Mukul Roy accompanied her.
While laying foundation for the university with state education minister Bratya Basu, the CM said the institute would help local students to pursue higher education in Cooch Behar itself and need not go to cities like Kolkata. She also said that the Cooch Behar airport would be extended under Rs 25 crore project, a circuit bench of the Calcutta High Court would come up in Jalpaiguri by August and also Rs 50 lakh would be used for the development of the Cooch Behar Stadium.
The CM also asked the district magistrate to identify 33 acre of land for setting up a jute hub. The CM also met the local administrative and police officers. Banerjee said nobody could stall Bengal's development despite the fact that it is caught in a massive debt which was left behind by the previous Left Front government.
The CM spent the night beside the Gorumara reserve forest and also briefly met forest officials. She would also visit the hills ahead of the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration voting scheduled later this month.
(With agency inputs)