Kolkata, Sep 14 (IANS) After her party's massive win in the West Bengal panchayat poll, it is now back to the districts for Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee as she sets her eyes on next year's general elections.
Banerjee is aiming for a large chunk of seats from the state in the Lok Sabha poll, which would make her party a big player in national politics provided none of the major combinations - the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance and the Bharatiya Janata Party-headed National Democratic Alliance - gains a majority.
Having bagged the zilla parishads (the upper tier of the three-rung panchayat or rural body system in the state) in 13 of the 17 districts in the recent elections, Banerjee feels her frequent tours to the districts to review progress of development schemes has paid handsome dividends for the party.
During these tours that started months after she took office in May, 2011, Banerjee took along with her top bureaucrats and senior ministers and held lengthy review meetings at the district headquarters to pinpoint shortcomings in time-bound implementation of schemes and pull up officials for laggardness.
"We have decided to bring the secretariat to the districts for better planning and implementation," Banerjee said earlier when she started her district visits.
The meetings were followed by public rallies where the chief minister tom tommed the government's "success stories", inaugurated or laid the foundations for development schemes and announced new projects. She would also distribute cycles among school girls, and hand over scholarships to students, carts to vegetable vendors, land deeds to poor peasants and kisan credit cards.
The latest round of Banerjee's district trips started from North 24 Parganas on Sep 10.
After the monitoring work, Banerjee addressed a public meeting at the Barasat district headquarters.
She explained that she conducted such meetings to make the people aware of government initiatives "to help them raise their heads high and live life better".
"The government is working for the people, who must be aware of the facilities that are being made available to them. ``
Her next port of call was Sarisha in South 24 Parganas district, where she announced the government would provide identity cards to fishermen living in the coastal villages. The chief minister also threw open a shelter home for the cyclone-affected people and a Hilsa research centre to ensure the state moves towards "self-sufficiency" in production of the popular fish.
Banerjee's next destination was Howrah. Apart from the administrative meeting, she addressed a public meeting at Panchla, announcing her government's decisions to improve the transport system, the health facilities, and the industrial scenario in the district.
On Friday, the chief minister went to East Midnapore district.
At a rally in Kolaghat, she complained about the central government not giving clearance to a proposed eco-tourism hub at Nayachar, and appealed to New Delhi for immediate go-ahead for the project.
The chief minister announced that her government would take up development projects on a "war footing".
"We have to do this so that the people understand that we not only make promises, but also implement them in reality," she said.
Banerjee has promised to cover 10 districts before next month's Durga Puja festival.
(Sirshendu Panth can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)