Mamata plays ‘soft Hindutva’ card, set to give 28 crores to Durga puja committees this year

Bengal’s Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has been trying to counter Bharatiya Janata Party’s recent surge in Bengal especially after the panchayat polls, in which the Bharatiya Janata Party made significant inroads into the state.

Mamata Banerjee while addressing the coordination meeting with Puja committees and Police at the Netaji Indoor stadium on Monday announced a package of twenty-eight crores (28) to committees across the state.

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee also offered gifts for the Puja committees in Kolkata and districts including a waiver of license fees for the Puja organizers and Rs 10,000 donation from the government to at least 28,000 puja committees across the state. She said that each of the 3000 committees in Kolkata and the additional 25000 committees across the state will receive a donation of Rs 10,000 from the state government.

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Hinting at the opposition parties in the state, the chief minister also urged the committees to ‘resist all kinds of advances’ from ‘groups’ who might offer a huge amount of monetary donation to the committees. She stated that these people may try and ‘buy’ the committees by offering a lump sum amount of money. According to Mamata, such advances should be tackled and committees should not ‘surrender’ to these ‘forces’.

The promises made by Banerjee include a complete waiver of the Kolkata Municipal Corporation tax and the fees for the issuance of fire licenses.

It is important to note that Bengal is in a debt-ridden situation, the debt burden on the state is estimated around Rs 3.64 lakh crore and it is slated to go up to Rs. 3.94 lakh crore in the current fiscal. Thus, such expenses are sure to be a burden for the state in the long run than a source of hope. This is not the first time Mamata has used public funds to further her ‘cash for compliance’ schemes. She has, by her own admission, distributed Rs. 600 crore to clubs since coming to power in 2011. Ironically, Mamata has repeatedly stated that there is no money in the state’s treasury and blamed the central government for not waiving off the state’s debts.

The most shocking aspect of these waivers seems to be the source of that money and the departments which have been asked to pay for this. According to a report published in DNA, Kolkata Municipality and fire and emergency department have been asked to pay for this ‘cash for compliance’ scheme of Mamata. The police department will be responsible for handing over the money to respective puja committees.

Last year, there was a controversy in the state as the Mamata government had created a controversy and had faced wide criticism for withholding the idol immersions on Vijaya Dashami because the date coincided with Moharram. The order was later revoked by the Kolkata high court. Referring to the controversy as ‘outside meddling’, Banerjee asked people to stay vigilant this year. She stated – “We all need to be very vigilant during this period. Do not allow anybody to instigate communal violence or create disturbances in your areas.”.


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