Kolkata: Metro Railway Kolkata has said it has invited West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee for the inauguration of the Sealdah metro station of the East-West Line, amid the controversy over it. The station is scheduled to be inaugurated by Union Minister Smriti Irani virtually from Howrah.
A formal invitation has been sent to the Chief Minister's Office (CMO), and local TMC MP Sudip Bandyopadhyay and TMC MLAs Nayna Bandyopadhyay and Paresh Pal, a Metro Railway spokesperson said on Sunday.
A source at state secretariat said, the invitation has been received but the chief minister would be travelling to northern West Bengal on Monday. Hitting out at the BJP-led government in the Centre, the ruling TMC said the "last-minute" invitation was prompted by public pressure.
"This is nothing but last-minute realisation by the Metro of its mistake in the face of mounting public criticism. They knew about the CM's planned trip to north Bengal, but still they organised the programme so that she is not able to attend," TMC MP Sukhendu Sekhar Roy claimed.
"We want the service to commence as scheduled in the interest of the people," he said. The Metro Railway Kolkata, the oldest in the country, is a part of the Indian Railways, unlike the metro systems in other parts of India where state governments have stakes in the operating companies.
The BJP said the TMC made a hue and cry over the issue despite knowing that such official invitations do take time to reach the invitees. "Still, none of our MLAs or MPs get invitations to official functions of the state government. The TMC should hold a mirror to itself," BJP's national vice-president Dilip Ghosh said.
Commercial services at the swanky Sealdah metro station, connecting the IT hub of Sector 5, will begin on July 15. It is a part of the East-West corridor, a part of which is built under the Hooghly River. The new station will not only increase the ridership of the line, but it will also be a boon for people living in the suburbs to reach the IT hub easily after getting down from local trains at Sealdah.