Ahead of 2021 polls, Mamata announces monetary help, housing for Hindu priests

(Eds: Adds details, reaction of pol parties)

Kolkata, Sep 14 (PTI) Under frequent attack by
opposition parties for “minority appeasement”, West Bengal
Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Monday announced monthly
financial assistance of Rs 1,000 and free housing for over
8,000 Hindu priests of the state, ahead of the assembly
election which is likely to be held in April-May next year.

With an eye on the Hindi-speaking electorate and
tribal voters spread across the state, she also said that a
Hindi Academy and a Dalit Sahitya Academy would be set up by
her government.

She made the announcement on the Hindi Diwas, which is
observed on this day annually to commemorate the adoption of
Hindi as one of the official languages of the country.

Opposition parties described the announcements as
“poll gimmicks”.

“We had earlier provided land to the Sanatan Brahmin
sect to set up an academy at Kolaghat. Many priests in this
sect are financially weak. We have decided to help them by
providing them with an allowance of Rs 1,000 per month and
also free housing under the state government”s housing
scheme,” Banerjee said.

“I would request all of you not to find any other
meaning in this announcement. It is being done to help the
Brahmin priests. They will start getting the allowance from
next month as it is the Durga Puja season,” the chief minister
told a press conference here.

The announcements came within a week of BJP president
J P Nadda”s accusation that the Trinamool Congress government
in West Bengal has an “anti-Hindu” mindset and is pursuing
“minority appeasement” policies.

Newly appointed West Bengal Congress president Adhir
Ranjan Chowdhury has also charged the state government with
“appeasing the minorities”.

The TMC had faced criticism after coming to power in
2011 for announcing monthly allowance for Imams. The state
government had then said that it would be provided by the Wakf
Board of West Bengal.

In a bid to dent the BJP”s support base among the
Hindi-speaking people and the tribal areas of the state, the
state government also announced the setting up of a Hindi
Academy and a Dalit Sahitya Academy.

“We had earlier formed a Hindi Academy after coming to
power. Today we have restructured it and have decided to form
a new Hindi Academy with former (TMC) Rajya Sabha MP Vivek
Gupta as its chairman. We respect all languages and don”t have
a linguistic bias,” she said.

Gupta is also the editor of a Hindi daily published
from Kolkata.

Banerjee also announced the 25-member board of the

She also tried to reach out to the tribal electorate
of the state, a large section of which voted for the BJP in
Jangalmahal area, which comprises the districts of Jhargram,
Paschim Medinipur, Bankura and Purulia, in the Lok Sabha poll
of 2019.

“For the betterment of the languages of tribals, we
have decided to form a Dalit Sahitya Academy. Dalits”
languages have influence on the Bengali language,” she said.

The opposition BJP and CPI(M) criticized the state
government”s decision of allowance to Hindu priests and
setting up of a Hindi Academy claiming that they are “poll

“What was she doing for all these years? Why didn”t
she announce this allowance when similar assistance was
announced for Imams? This is nothing but a poll gimmick. And
regarding the Hindi Academy, it was the TMC which has called
Hindi-speaking people outsiders,” BJP national secretary Rahul
Sinha said.

West Bengal Congress president Adhir Chowdhury said
that the announcement reflects the desperation of the TMC

“The chief minister has realized that only appeasement
of minorities will not work. So, she has decided to give doles
to Hindu priests. This is a poll gimmick. She is not
interested in the development of either Hindus or Muslims,”
Chowdhury claimed.

CPI(M) central committee member Sujan Chakraborty said
that such “politics of dole” will further deepen the communal
divide in the state. PTI SUS/SCH PNT

Disclaimer :- This story has not been edited by Outlook staff and is auto-generated from news agency feeds. Source: PTI

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