Buddhadeb emulates Nitish

West Bengal CM to give away 33,000 bicycles to students

“We’ll distribute at least 33,000 bicycles in two districts of North and South 24 Parganas for Class IX  students,” an embattled Buddhadev recently announced at a government function at Raidighi, 85 km from here, near Sunderbans. The twin districts, once impregnable bastions of the ruling CPM, have suddenly been overrun by opposition Trinamool Congress. The Mamata Banerjee-led outfit romped home in all but one seat in the two districts in the last Lok Sabha elections.

A week before the Raidighi funciton, a harangued chief minister had to rush to Bankura district, another Maoist-prone territory, to launch a bicycle distribution scheme to woo the women electorate there. Similar functions are likely to be held in other areas of the State too where the Marxists have suffered erosion in their support base.

The Nitish Kumar government in Bihar was understood to have spent close to Rs 174 crore in the 2007-08 period on its cycle distribution programme. The move reportedly benefited 8.70 lakh girls across the State. Young girls in this once economically backward state happily bicycling their way to schools is now a familiar sight. That “Nitishji” had silently scored a political oneupmanship over his rivals in the last Assembly polls had been the talk of the town across the country for a long time.

Seemingly determined to throw a spanner in Buddhadev’s populist cycle-politics his arch rival Trinamool Congress has fired the first salvo at the CPM asking the Marxist leadership to “imitate”  Nitishji in “letter and spirit”.

“The Bihar chief minister has also asked his party leaders and top government officials to disclose their assets within February. We would expect Buddhadev Bhattacherjee to issue an identical whip to the party and the officials at the earliest. We are afraid he can’t afford to do it as there have already been two Income Tax raids on the residence of former CPM Rajya Sabha MP Sarla Maheswari and crores of unaccounted money have been recovered,” claimed Partha Chatterjee, a senior TMC spokesman.

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