Mamata congratulates Ahluwalia, assures cooperation

New Delhi, July 6 (IANS) West Bengal Chief Minister and Trinamool Congress supremo Mamata Banerjee has congratulated Minister of State for Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare S.S. Ahluwalia on his new assignment and both leaders assured cooperation to each other, Ahluwalia said on Tuesday.

“As elected member from West Bengal after my swearing-in on Tuesday, I had made a courtesy call to her. She was not there. Then she returned my call to congratulate me,” Ahluwalia told reporters soon after assuming office as the new Minister of State for Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare in Krishi Bhavan here on Wednesday.

Both the leaders discussed developmental works in the state, he said.

During the telephone talk, Ahluwalia asked about a July 12 event at Darjeeling that President Pranab Mukherjee is expected to attend.

“On the July 12 event, Mamata Banerjee asked me to go. I told her as a Union Minister and MP I can go only when invited. Then she assured me that invitation would be coming,” said the Darjeeling MP, who has often during the past two years engaged himself in verbal duel with Trinamool Congress members in the Lok Sabha.

“If invited, I will go,” said Ahluwalia, who is also Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs.

On his role as floor manager for the government, Ahluwalia, a seasoned lawmaker mostly in Rajya Sabha since 1986, said, “Every day is a challenge. When you go out to the market for shopping, that’s also a challenge.”

Ahluwalia took office in the presence of Union Minister Radha Mohan Singh, who said the former’s long experience in politics and administration would help run the Agriculture Ministry better.

Ahluwalia said accelerating the development of agriculture sector and reaching out to the poorest among farmers will get priority.

President Mukherjee is to preside over a function in Darjeeling on July 13, the birth anniversary of Nepali poet Bhanubhakta Acharya.

The BJP won two seats in West Bengal, Ahluwalia is the second minister from the state after Asansol MP Babul Supriyo.

–IANS

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