West Bengal: Muslim clerics and scholars protest demanding hike in stipend to Imams and funds for Madrasas

Mamata Banerjee, who is known for her proximity to the Muslim community, is set to face a big challenge as influential clerics and scholars from across the state, few known to be extremely close to the Chief Minister, are taking out a rally demanding hike in stipend to Imams and State funds for at least 10,000 Madrasas across the state.

Lambasting at the Chief Minister for playing the ‘majority appeasement card’, the clerics have come out in the open and asked Mamata Banerjee that if the state has enough funds for sponsoring Durga Puja then why not for Imams in the state.

The chairman of The All Bengal Minority Youth Federation (ABMYF), Mohd. Kamarujjaman, while speaking to Times Now, reiterated, that the Muslim community had voted for Mamata Banerjee hoping that their demands will be met, but in the last 7 years, she has done nothing to improve their conditions. He furthered that in the last six years the Imams have been drawing a stipend of Rs 2500 a month whereas the State donates approximately Rs 28 crores to Durga Puja committees each year.

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Mamata Banerjee who for all this while has been known to play the minority appeasement card in Bengal is now facing threats from the State’s minority itself, who have come out in full strength to protest against the State Government, blaming them to play the caste-based politics.

Earlier too, in 2016 Mamata had faced similar threats when over 10000 Muslim clerics had taken on the city roads raising similar demands.

Last few attempts of Mamata’s political gimmicks, however, have seemed to be backfiring on her. Stuck between this political disorientation, last year almost during the same time of the year, people had called out at the West Bengal Chief Minister, accusing her of minority appeasement over her decision to fix Durga idol immersion time which coincided with the Taazia procession during Muharram. Following the announcement, a PIL was filed in the Calcutta High Court which claimed that the announcement had hurt the religious sentiments of the majority community, following which the Calcutta High Court had pulled up Mamata Banerjee led West Bengal government over their decision.

In July 2018, Trinamool Congress opened a new party office at Bolpur which had a separate ‘Thakur Ghar’, a puja room, with several deities, including a replica of Ajmer Sharif Dargah installed in it. However, this step hadn’t gone down too well with the BJP that has accused the TMC of using it as a cover for their ‘minority appeasement’ policy.

In this political bewilderment, it seems, it is slowly becoming difficult for Mamata Banerjee to exhibit her real frame of mind. Being accused of taking to ‘soft Hindutva’ approach lately, on lines of Congress President Rahul Gandhi, since people are upset with TMC’s ‘minority appeasement’ policy, in March this year, she did a u-turn on Ram Navami celebrations by overturning the initial orders of banning the display of arms by allowing ‘restricted’ display of arms in the procession.

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