Published on The Asian Age, by Correspondent, August 31, 2012.
Accusing Congress MP Deepa Das Munshi of playing politics over the proposed All India Institute of Medical Sciences AIIMS in Raiganj in North Dinajpur district, chief minister Mamata Banerjee on Thursday made it clear that her government would not provide land for it. “For quite some time, some people are doing politics over AIIMS in Raiganj. I want to inform them that our government will not acquire land for it because it is against our policy to acquire farmland by placing gun on the heads of the farmers. I myself had gone on a 26-day fast to stop the forcible acquisition of unwilling farmers’ land in Singur,” she added.
Ms Banerjee was speaking at a rally at North Dinajpur’s Itahar. Without naming her, Ms Banerjee put the onus of arranging land on Ms Das Munshi. “If those who are criticising us can arrange 100 acres of land in Raiganj then we have no objection to the setting up of AIIMS here. But our stand is clear: I will not forcibly acquire land even if I have to die,” she added.
Although she ruled out land for AIIMS, the chief minister said she would set up a super-speciality hospital in Raiganj as well as in Islampur. Taking pot-shots at Ms Das Munshi (again without naming her) Ms Banerjee said that she was agitating over AIIMS just for the sake of votes. “After the election, you will not find these people for 10-15 years,” she added.
Rejecting her charge, Ms Das Munshi said that it was the chief minister who was doing politics over AIIMS. “By refusing to acquire land she has made it clear that she does not want AIIMS to be set up in Raiganj. If the promises she made in her Itahar rally are true then why she wants to deprive the people of the district and of North Bengal of a hospital like AIIMS?” she asked.
Dismissing Ms Banerjee’s proposal that if she could arrange the land then the state government would have no objection, Ms Das Munshi said that this was the responsibility of state and not individuals … (full text).