West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee yesterday announced for 28,000 Durga Puja committees with a grant of Rs. 10,000 each this season of a festival “for community development programmes.”
In Kolkata total 3000 Durga Puja takes place out of the granted 28,000 Pujas, in other districts. Therefore, the total expenses incurred in the state for 28,000 Pujas will be a cost of Rs. 28 crore.
However, critics are questioning the generosity at a time when Ms. Banerjee claims the state is impecunious for cash.
A social media user tweets after her announcement of Rs. 28 crore grants to Durga Puja Committees that “She is trying to balance Imam Bhata.” It is a kind of stipend that CM Banerjee had offered for muezzins and Imams at mosque soon after coming into power in 2011. The initiative had drained the charge of minority accession and was later restricted by the court.
After the meeting in Kolkata with Durga Puja Committee representatives on Monday, she further disclosed plans for the second edition of “Bishorjon Carnival”.
Ms. Banerjee said that “Durga Pujo immersions will be held from October 19 to 22. We will organize Durga Pujo Bishorjon Carnival at Red Road on October 23 at 4 PM. Last year, 55 clubs participated, this year, 75 clubs will participate.”
Last year, Bishorjon of Durga idols overlapped with Muharram, which led the postponed of immersion for one day, something for which Bengal CM had been criticised by many, again for minority conciliation.
Yesterday, CM Banerjee took up the issue seriously and said that “Do not pay heed to incite propaganda. One communal political party wants to polarise people on religious lines.”
She continued, “Some people make tall claims. Can they organize Bakr-Eid and Durga Puja at the same time? No. Last year we had to stop Bishorjon for one day because of Muharram, and because of that a lot of propaganda was carried out on social media.”
Ms. Banerjee added that “A few days ago, the fake news was spread that we are prohibiting Durga Pujo. Can you believe it? Will you believe if I told you that Eid and Christmas have been banned? These are tactics to spread communal discord. It is easy to incite riots, but not easy to douse the fire. We will not allow anyone to play with fire.”
Bengal CM has also composed a song with the theme “Jaago Durga” for the Pujas, which will commence this year from October 16.