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28 Feb 2017

Hint at Deb-Ghosh rift in office denial

TT, Siliguri, Feb. 27: The perceived tussle between north Bengal development minister Rabindranath Ghosh and his cabinet colleague Gautam Deb came to the fore once again today when the former said he had no plan to allot an office for the Uttarbanga Unnayan Parshad at Uttarkanya here.
After being made the chairman of the Uttarbanga Unnayan Parshad (North Bengal Development Council) last week, tourism minister Deb had said the body would set up an office at Uttarkanya, the secretariat's north Bengal branch.
Today, Ghosh, whose department is the caretaker of Uttarkanya, said 18 departments would set up offices at the branch secretariat. "Public works department, animal husbandry, scheduled castes and scheduled tribes welfare department, labour, fruit processing and office for director general of police are some of the new offices and departments which will function from Uttarkanya," Ghosh said.
However, there was no mention of the development council and the tourism department.
Asked about the matter, Ghosh said: "We don't have any plan to provide space to the development council to set up an office at Uttarkanya. He (Deb) has his office in Siliguri from where he can do necessary work of the council."
As of now, Deb has a small office at the Mainak Tourist Lodge, located off Hill Cart Road, in Siliguri. The lodge is run by the state tourism department.
The buzz is that Ghosh and Deb have sharp differences over several issues and don't see eye to eye. Last month, Ghosh had refused to sanction funds for the Bengal Travel Mart organised by Deb's department. Ghosh was supposedly asked to make available Rs 36.23 lakh for the mart.
Deb is also the convener of a 15-member coordination committee of ministers and MLAs of Trinamul in north Bengal, entrusted with the responsibility of monitoring and assessing each development project in the region.
Today, Ghosh also said the development council wouldn't be provided with funds. For the coming fiscal, the state government has allotted Rs 575 crore to the north Bengal development department.
"The council will never ask for funds. It will give us proposals of development projects. We would then check the viability of each project and take necessary steps," Ghosh said.
Contacted, Deb refused comment. "I don't want to make any comment," he said.

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