"Trinamool Congress will not allow any move to divide West Bengal. I understand the problems of the people living in Darjeeling hills. All problems can be solved through dialogues," Banerjee told an election rally at Kalchini in Jalpaiguri district. "An integrated development programme in the hill areas is the key to reach a permanent and peaceful settlement," she added without naming the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha, which is spearheading the movement for Gorkhaland.
Coverage: Assembly Elections 2011
Banerjee alleged that the Communist Party of India-Marxist wanted to break the unity of the people of the hill areas and the plains by not addressing their problems. "It is deliberately done for a long period of time for electoral gain," she said.
"North Bengal has huge natural resources. It has forests and mountains. The people are also intelligent, hard working and peace loving. The area can easily be turned into India's Switzerland if government has vision and political will," she said.
Earlier, addressing another rally at Kumargram, Banerjee accused the ruling Left Front government of destroying the tea industry in north Bengal and said things would radically improve if the TC-Congress alliance comes to power. "The once thriving tea industry in north Bengal has been destroyed by the Left Front government during its 34-year-long rule by adopting anti-labour policy," she said.
The government did not take any step to meet the just demand of daily wage, which has resulted in poor health and low productivity among workers, she alleged.
"There is no arrangement for drinking water, medical service and elementary education for the tea garden workers and their families. Their demand for Hindi medium schools in the garden areas has also been ignored," she said.
The CPM-led government wasted all opportunities to develop north Bengal. The region had inadequate electricity, poor road connectivity, insufficient health-care facilities and no industry, she alleged. "The government could not even provide 15 day-work to villagers in a year under the centrally sponsored Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act 's 100-day programme," Banerjee claimed.
"Things will radically improve and a resurgent Bengal will emerge if the Trinamool Congress-Congress alliance comes to power in the state," she said. Dubbing the LF government as a "bankrupt ministry", the railway minister said there was no fund to provide salary to teachers, para-teachers and other state employees. "The government looted public money to sustain CPM cadres," she alleged.