It was a day of big announcements by West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, with an eye on the 2021 Assembly elections. Amongst the major announcements made was a stipend for Bengal Brahmin priests.
8000 such priests will be entitled to a stipend of Rs.1000 every month, in a bid to fight the financial difficulties, more so after the lockdown.
The good news doesn’t just stop there. Priests of the Sanatan Brahmin sect will also be covered under the Bengal Awas Yojana scheme and provided with houses. "We have earlier provided land to Sanatan Brahmin sect to set up an academy in Kolaghat. Several priests have met me and requested if we can do something for them. There are many in far-flung villages living in a lot of distress. Thus we have decided to pay them Rs 1,000 every month. Those who don't have a house will also be given one under the state Awas Yojana. They are very poor and a small financial aid can be helpful", said Mamata Banerjee.
Mamata also announced that other religions will also be included in the list if the state government is approached. “We will give the same benefit to gurus of Gurdwara and Church bishops if they approach us, please don't see this differently." Added the West Bengal Chief Minister.
The Trinamool Congress(TMC) supremo had announced a stipend for imams and mouzzins across the state, which the BJP had termed as minority appeasement This stipend, however, was disbursed from the minority Waqf Board.
A committee has also been appointed a Dalit Sahitya Academy as the West Bengal Chief Minister emphasized that the state’s literature on scheduled castes and scheduled tribes is also learnt by many. “The new Dalit academy will have a library, bring out their struggles and their tales. We will also have a mathua development board.” Said Mamata.
The TMC has been doing extensive outreach programmes on the ground with the insights of political strategist Prashant Kishor. With less than a year away for the 2021 Assembly elections, the TMC is trying to plug all loopholes to prevent the majority of Hindu votes going in favour of the saffron party, something that the BJP is very confident of after their success in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. The BJP has gone from 2 Lok Sabha seats to 18 seats, while TMC saw a drop in the seats won by them. But this does not stop the TMC from whatever they can to hold onto to their turf in West Bengal and keep the BJP at bay.