Mamata Banerjee gives Rs 70 crore bonanaza to Bengal Durga puja committees, BJP calls her desperate
Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee handed out a minimum of Rs 70 crore bonanza to West Bengal’s close to 28,000 community Durga pujas by raising the direct grant by a whopping 250 per cent to Rs 25,000 on Friday. Grant for pujas organised by women will be even better at Rs 30,000. In 2018, Durga pujas committees were paid Rs 10,000.
The announcement came during a meeting with police officers and office bearers of various puja committees in a city auditorium.
The Chief Minister said that the police would have the discretionary power to decide which puja communities were run by women.
In further indirect assistance, the CM announced that the state run power utility, West Bengal State Electricity Distribution Company Ltd (WBSEDC) and privately-run CESC have been asked to give 25 per cent concession in the power bill of the pujas.
Former Kolkata mayor, a prominent advocate and Left leader Bikash Bhattacharya said that they would move court. “Can public money be wasted in this manner?” he asked.
Bhattacharya argued against the government’s move in a case that was filed by two individuals last year against the Chief Minister’s grant of Rs 10,000 to each of the community pujas. “Last year the government said in court that they had given the money to promote awareness about road safety,” said Bhattacharya.
Bharatiya Janata Party state unit general secretary Pratap Banerjee said that the Chief Minister was trying to get the backing of the puja organisers for the assembly elections. “It has become evident to her that her rule is set to end. Therefore, this desperation,” said Banerjee.
Incidentally, Bengal is a fiscally-stressed state. By the end of 2019-20, the combined expenditure for debt repayment, salaries and pension is projected to stand at Rs 118,696 crore that is 1.81 times its own tax revenue of Rs 65,546 crore.