Mamata back in Hills, promises development

CHIEF Minister Mamata Banerjee, who reached Darjeeling today on a three-day tour on an invitation from Gorkha Janamukti Morcha (GJM) chief Bimal Gurung, said her love for the Hills continued and she had been working there for several developmental projects, including road and tourism projects.

After meeting Gurung in the evening, Mamata said: "We love the Hills and the people of the Hills also love me a lot. Since the time I became Railway minister, I have been visiting this place and started several projects here. After becoming chief minister, my love for the hills continues. I have visited the place at least 21 times after I became CM."

The Chief Minister said she has started several projects in Terai and Dooar region as well. "We will set up an industrial town in Falakata, a film city will come up in Siliguri, and we have plans to set up another tourism hub and a film city in Banarhat in Jalpaiguri where we have already got 160 acres of land."

Contrary to Mamata's last meeting in Darjeeling on January 29 that was controlled by the district administration, this time her visit has been organised by the GTA.

Mamata's meeting with the GJM leadership is significant given that the relation between the two deteriorated earlier in the year. The GJM leaders had been offended by the CM's remarks that Darjeeling cannot be separated from Bengal and that she could be "rough and tough" if the need arose.

The equation changed after hundreds of GJM supporters and workers joined Gorkha National Liberation Front (GNLF) recently.

GJM general secretary Roshan Giri had met Mamata in April-end at the state secretariat and invited her to join the GTA programmes in Darjeeling in May.

"The influence of anti-GJM parties, including GNLF, is increasing in the hills. Several hundreds of our workers and supporters have joined GNLF. Two senior GJM leaders, including a Nari Morcha leader of Kalimpong, joined GNLF. In April, around 100 workers joined Trinamool Congress in Darjeeling in a meeting held by TMC minister Gautam Deb. Moreover, the GTA needs to be operational to resume development works in the Hills. So, in a central committee meeting last month, it was decided that the party will start convincing the chief minister and seek support to run the GTA," said a senior GJM leader.

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