Following landslide victory of the All India Trinamool Congress (AITC) in the Siliguri Municipal Corporation (SMC) elections, results of which were declared today, a visibly delighted party chief and Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee thanked the people of Siliguri and asked them to prepare plans to make the gateway to North Bengal and the Northeast “smarter and glittering.”
As she left Kolkata for Siliguri on a four-day North Bengal visit today, Miss Banerjee said: “I am leaving for Siliguri, following good results there.” Miss Banerjee was also visibly delighted to announce that senior party leader from Siliguri Gautam Deb would be made the mayor of Siliguri. According to a Kolkatabased political observer, Miss Banerjee’s victory in Siliguri will help her recover organisational base in northern North Bengal and adjoining areas in the Northeast to fight the BJP in the next Lok Sabha elections in 2024.
The AITC had failed to bag a single LS seat in North Bengal in the 2019 Assembly elections. It may be noted here that Miss Banerjee will hold a meeting with members of the Tribal Development Advisory Council at Uttarkanya here tomorrow to make plans for the development of the Adivasi-dominated tea belt in North Bengal. She is then scheduled to leave for Cooch Behar, where she will pay tributes to Chila Roy, the warrior and army commander during the time of the Narayan of Koch dynasty, to mark his 512th birthday anniversary at Baneshwar in the district.
A Rajbanshi community leader in North Bengal and the Northeast, Ananta Maharaj, has invited Miss Banerjee to attend the birth anniversary of Chila Roy on 16 February at Baneshwar. The CM arrived at the Bagdogra airport and went to Noukaghat in Siliguri to pay tributes to another legendary personality and reformer of the Rajbanshi community, Thakur Panchanan Barma. She offered garlands to his statue there to mark his birth anniversary.
“To pay him respect, the West Bengal Government has declared 14 February a government holiday to celebrate the birthday of Thakur Panchanan Barma,” Miss Banerjee said, addressing the gathering at Naukaghat today. “Many many thanks to each of you for your support. Thanks to ‘Maa Mati Manush’ also in Siliguri, belonging to many religions, caste and creed,” Miss Banerjee said, adding, “Siliguri is an important place. We have developed Siliguri in the past many days, after coming to power, by setting up the North Bengal Development Department. We have developed connectivity by roads, even connecting Nepal, Bhutan and other countries.”
She further mentioned the government’s branch secretariat Uttarkanya, Safari Park, Teesta City and even the tourism hub Bhorer Alo at Gazoldoba. “Our plan is to ready the Bagdogra Airport to an international level. We have already marked an additional 100 acres of land for its development,” she said. She also said: “The airport will be developed in Cooch Behar, Balurghat and Malda. The state has set up 26 helipads across the state.” “Siliguri needs to resolve its traffic congestion problems immediately,”
Miss Banerjee said. She also asked officials concerned to prepare a plan by involving people, and submit proposal to make Siliguri “smarter and glittering like our Kolkata.” “I have nominated Gautam Deb’s name as the mayor of Siliguri. I will just ask him to involve people, belonging to all regions, in Siliguri and prepare a plan on how to develop your Siliguri,” the CM added.
According to her, mere allotment of funds is not enough to develop an area, but what was needed was far sighted vision to develop an area based on the resources present there. Miss Banerjee also hinted that a new Darjeeling was required where the Hill areas are not congested and proper plans to generate employment for smart and educated Hill boys and girls was needed, “as we have set up a Hill University there.” “Victory celebration with the green abir (powder) is not enough, we need to make our minds green by extending support to the people,” she said.