Centre transforming railway infrastructure by making record investment: PM Modi

PM launched four railway projects for West Bengal and laid the foundation stone for the redevelopment of the New Jalpaiguri railway station

KOLKATA: After virtually flagging off the Vande Bharat Express from Howrah to New Jalpaiguri, Mr Modi asserted that the Union government is transforming the country's railway infrastructure by making record investments.

The PM, who also launched four railway projects for West Bengal and laid the foundation stone for the redevelopment of the New Jalpaiguri railway station, pointed out that railway stations, including New Jalpaiguri, are being developed along the lines of airports.

In all, the PM inaugurated railway projects worth more than `5,000 crores for West Bengal.

"Today's Vande Bharat train was launched from the land where 'Vande Mataram' slogan was coined. The launch date of December 30 is significant as Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose had hoisted the tricolour in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands on this day in 1943," he said.

Peeved with the sloganeering, an angry TMC supremo, as a mark of protest, took a seat beside the stage, ignoring pleas of Mr Bose and Mr Vaishnaw to join them and participated in the programme, which was attended by the PM virtually after performing the last rites of his mother Heeraben Modi in Gujarat.

In her address, Ms Banerjee expressed her condolences to Mr Modi over his personal loss and sympathised with him.

She also thanked the PM for inaugurating the projects, most of which she claimed were conceptualised during her last tenure as the railway minister.

Earlier, when the CM and the governor reached the venue in the morning, the BJP supporters, who were also present in large numbers in the audience on the opposite side of the dais, started shouting Jai Shri Ram slogans.

This left Ms Banerjee so irritated that she did not walk up to the dais and was seen standing with Mr Bose for some time. Mr Bose then spoke to Ms Banerjee to break the impasse. Mr Vaishnaw also tried to convince her, with folded hands, to take the stage. But Ms Banerjee remained firm in her stand. Union minister of state for education and Bankura BJP MP Subhas Sarkar asked the party supporters to maintain silence.

He and Mr Vaishnaw later accompanied the governor to the dais. They were joined by Union minister of state (MOS) for home affairs Nisith Pramanik, MOS minority affairs John Barla and West Bengal’s Leader of the Opposition Suvendu Adhikari, who were earlier with the TMC.

Ms Banerjee, along with her party MP from Howrah Prasun Banerjee, state chief secretary H.K. Dwivedi and state director general of police Manoj Malviya, sat on one side of the stage.

Lashing out at the BJP over the fiasco, Kolkata mayor Firhad Hakim said, "What they did with the CM was indecent. We show courtesy. But they are not worthy of it. What does it mean by shouting Jai Shri Ram in front of a CM who is a Hindu? It is nothing but an insult by the BJP to Lord Ram on the pretext of irritating the CM. If we had done the same with them, they would have tried to throttle us."

Mr Vaishnaw, however, said: "The CM was invited to the event with affection and respect. There was no incident that left a room to get upset. We requested that she come to the dais. But it was her decision not to take the dais. It is also natural for the supporters to chant slogans."

( Source : Deccan Chronicle with agency inputs )
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