Cornered Mamata says festivals add to economy too


On Sunday CPM leaders had slammed the Chief Minister for spending public money on festivals.

Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, who came under fire from opposition parties for failing to attract industry to the state, on Monday said that festivals are a form of small industry which generates income for many people. "Festival is a kind of small industry. It generates income and ensures economic development," Mamata said at the inaugural ceremony of North Bengal Festival at Kanchanjungha Stadium in Siliguri on Monday.

"Several people come and sell their products during festivals," Mamata said in response to opposition's criticism, adding, "If not festivals, what should we do? Shall we perform shradh?"

Interestingly, not once did Mamata, during her 30 minutes speech, spoke about GJM's plan to launch a fresh stir in the Hills demanding Gorkhaland state or the unabated starvation deaths at Dalmore and Dheklapara Tea gardens in the Dooars. Avoiding comments on recent developments in the Hills, she tried to win the residents of Darjeeling by showering sops on them. The move comes after a team from the tea gardens had come to Kolkata and submitted a deputation to the Food and Supply Secretary and Labour Secretary at Writers Buildings, demanding that adequate food be supplied to tea workers of the closed gardens.

On Tuesday, Mamata will inaugurate the Bijanbari Bridge and a tourism centre at Lamahata in Darjeeling and a minority centre in the hill station. "I want peace both in the plains and the hills," she said.

The Chief Minister alleged that during the Left regime, "there was no life and attraction in festivals held in north Bengal". Dismissing charges made by the Opposition that the state government is doing nothing except organising festivals and distributing money among clubs, the chief minister gave a brief detail of what her government has done in north Bengal. Buildings of seven colleges are being constructed in north Bengal and a 100-bed hospital will be set up in Siliguri, she said, adding that the state government has been spending Rs 46 crore for developing infrastructure in Dooars and Rs 4 crore in Buxa. Six bridges would be constructed in north Bengal and a fair price shop will be opened in Siliguri hospital. An international tourism hub will also be set up at Gajaldoba, she said.

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