No objection to talking to Mamata: Tripura chief minister

Sunday, January 16, 2011

KOLKATA - His party may be at loggerheads with Railway Minister Mamata Banerjee in Left-ruled West Bengal, but Tripuras communist Chief Minister Manik Sarkar Sunday said he was open to talking to her on bettering railway connectivity in the northeastern state.

Earlier, I had spoken to Banerjee regarding railway connectivity in Tripura. Now, the railway route connecting northeastern states with Bangladesh is criss-crossing our state. The project has been declared as a national project and there has been a good progress, Sarkar said while addressing a media meet here at the Kolkata Press Club.

Sakar, a politburo member of the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M), said he had spoken to Banerjee on the issue last year.

She told me that she was well aware of the problems and admitted that railway have some constraints to immediately cope with the problems, he said.

Praising former railway minister Nitish Kumar for laying meter gauge tracks up to Subram sub-division of Tripura, Sarkar said: Earlier, we had to travel more than 600-1,000 km to board a train from Guwahati to go anywhere in the country, while before the partition of the country, we travelled only 350 km through (what is now) Bangladesh to reach Kolkata. So, railway connectivity has been a long demand for the people of Tripura.

When asked whether he will communicate with Banerjee before the coming railway budget to request her to plan some railway projects for his state, Sarkar said: I will talk to our transport minister first and if we think that some railway project is necessary, then I have no objection to discussing it with her.

Banerjee’s Trinamool Congress is the main opposition in West Bengal, where the CPI-M led Left Front has been in power since 1977.

Such is the animosity between the CPI-M and the Trinamool in the state, that the opposition party has a stated policy of its leaders - union ministers included - boycotting functions where Left Front ministers are also scheduled to attend.

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