STATESMAN NEWS SERVICE
Kolkata, 1 October
The Union minister for rural development Jairam Ramesh today ruled out any alliance between the Congress and the Trinamul Congress in the coming Lok Sabha poll, accusing the latter of having “covert” links with the BJP.
Mr Ramesh, however, paid a backhanded compliment to Trinamul chief Mamata Banerjee by admitting that the Singur and Nandigram issues were an eye-opener for the government and played a catalytic role in the framing of the new Land Acquisition Act. In the same breath he asserted: “Singur made Mamata Banerjee and Mamata Banerjee didn’t make Singur."
Mr Ramesh told the media at the PCC office that the possibility of the Congress forging an alliance with the Trinamul was out of the question since the Trinamul had reached an understanding with the BJP during the recent bypoll to the Howrah Lok Sabha seat as a result of which the BJP opted out of the contest at the eleventh hour even after fielding a candidate.
“How can we forge an alliance with a party for whose benefit the BJP withdrew its candidate in a recent by-election in an industrial town, after which a well known bridge is named,’’ he said.
Rubbishing Mr Ramesh’s charge, Trinamul state president Subrata Bakshi said: “It’s useless for Mr Ramesh to raise this issue. We have made a position in national politics with 19 MPs. Even BJP president Rajnath Singh said the BJP doesn’t believe in secret deals or tacit understanding.” “The public posturing of the Trinamul is different from the private views of many of its leaders, as a number of leaders extended their support to the Bill personally despite the party’s opposition to it,” Mr Ramesh said.
He also said the new Land Acquisition Act would protect farmers and help eliminate the Maoist menace from the affected areas, besides plugging all loopholes in the previous Act.
Speaking on the National Food Security Act, Mr Ramesh said the Mamata Banerjee government had opposed it too, even though West Bengal has been kept in the fourth position, after Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Maharashtra, as per food subsidy to the states under the new law.
“The total food subsidy to West Bengal will increase to Rs 7,700 crore from Rs 5,900 crore annually,” Mr Ramesh claimed.