Bereaved PM flags off Bengal projects virtually, Didi urges him to ‘take rest’ | India News


KOLKATA: Prime Minister Narendra Modi Friday launched Rs 7,600 crore worth of rail and infrastructure projects in Bengal through videoconferencing shortly after performing his mother Heeraba’s last rites in Ahmedabad, eliciting commiseration and some well-intentioned advice from CM Mamata Banerjee to “please cut short the programme (and) take rest as you are directly coming from the crematorium”.
“Your mother was our mother too. I remember my mother. May God give you the strength to continue your work. Today is a sad day for you personally, and it is a great loss. May God bless you so that you can love your mother through your actions and activity,” Mamata said, prompting the PM to respond with folded hands.
Modi had started off by seeking “forgiveness from the people of Bengal” for his inability to be physically present at the event to flag off the state’s maiden Vande Bharat train, among other rail projects. “I was supposed to come but couldn’t due to personal reasons,” he said, going on to highlight efforts to boost Bengal’s transport infrastructure and clean up the Ganga.
“Bengal’s people, unique in their patriotism, are the foremost in trying to discover India when people from many other states seek to visit other countries. Bengal’s people have put the nation first even in tourism,” the PM said, stressing how India was rapidly modernising its transport infrastructure, adding speed to its rail fleet and “upgrading railway stations to the level of airports”.
“The land from where the Vande Mataram call originated saw Vande Bharat being flagged off today,” he declared.
Referring to the “unfortunate, sewer-like state” of the Adi Ganga, Modi said the Namami Gange project was meant to transform the entire Ganga network. He mentioned the India-Bangladesh Ganga-Brahmaputra waterways link-up project and the scheduled 3,200-km January 2023 Kashi-to-Dibrugarh cruise via Bangladesh, which would be the first of its kind in the world.
Mamata, after thanking the PM for the projects, mentioned how it was “the happiest day of my life” to see the fruition of the Joka-BBD Bag Metro route. The CM recalled how she had inaugurated the project along with former President Pratibha Patil during her term as railway minister. “Four of the five railway projects were conceptualised during my tenure as railway minister. But now that you are inaugurating these, I am very happy,” Mamata said.
There was a moment of controversy, too, when “Jai Shri Ram” slogans some people holding BJP flags threatened to derail the Howrah station event, reprising a similar incident at the January 2021 Victoria Memorial Hall ceremony commemorating Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose’s birth anniversary. Mamata refused to take her designated place on the dais, choosing to address the audience instead from the front row of the platform-level seating area.
Unlike the pre-Bengal assembly poll event, BJP functionaries on the dais – including railway minister Ashwini Vaishnaw and Bankura MP Subhas Sarkar – took the lead in trying to defuse the situation. They chided the BJP supporters for raising political slogans “in a central government programme”.


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