West Bengal Chief Minister and Trinamool Congress supremo Mamata Banerjee has been trying every trick in the book to retain her turf in the state in the upcoming Assembly elections. In an apparent attempt of Muslim appeasement hours before the model code of conduct came into effect on Friday last week, Banerjee had reportedly granted Rs 2.60 crore to the Islamic shrine Furfura Sharif.
Fund granted for the beautification of Islamic shrine: government official
According to reports, the amount has been granted by the West Bengal government for the development of the Islamic shrine. A senior Finance Department official reportedly told that the fund would be used for beautification of the shrine. “This fund will be mainly used for 20 high mast and 400 LED street light and other beautification projects of the shrine. In the 2020-21 financial year, the Finance Department allotted Rs 20 crore for at least 60 schemes and the Furfura Sharif Development Authority”, the official was quoted.
It is speculated that the came amid TMC’s apprehension that the Indian Secular Front (ISF), a political party recently floated by Furfura Sharif’s cleric Peerzada Abbas Siddiqui, may undercut TMC’s base among the Muslims who form 30 per cent of the state’s population. TMC believes that ISF holds sway over about 5 districts in the state including Hooghly, Howrah and North 24 Parganas.
Banerjee also announced a hike in wages
However, another official reportedly said that the decision came after a meeting between Peerzada Abbas Siddiqui’s uncle Toha Siddiqui, the Chief Minister and the Urban Development and Municipal Affairs Minister Firhad Hakim at the state secretariat on Thursday last week. Toha Siddiqui had reportedly slammed his nephew for announcing a seat deal with the Left. “He (Abbas Siddiqui) is facing some serious allegations of corruption, and that is why he is compelled to ally with the CPM and Congress”, he alleged. The Mamata government has also announced a hike in the daily wage rates for workers under the WB Urban Employment Scheme.
A total of 56,500 workers (40,500 unskilled, 8000 semi-skilled, 8000 skilled) will benefit from this.— Mamata Banerjee (@MamataOfficial) February 26, 2021
These wages are in parity with rural workers’ enhanced pay (MNREGA unskilled & semi-skilled).
Budget provision for this step has been made available for both FY21 & FY22.
She posted a tweet on February 26, announcing that the wages of daily wage workers under West Bengal Urban Employment Scheme will be hiked.
Furfura Sharif cleric has formed an alliance with the Congress and Left parties
‘Allah’s virus’ fame Peerzada Abbas Siddiqui, who was speculated to join hands with Asaduddin Owaisi’s All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM), forged an alliance with the Communist Party and the Congress. However, despite not joining the AIMIM, Siddiqui said that he would not be opposing Owaisi’s party in the state.