25 January, 2021

A Prayer Sent Out Loudly

Mamata Banerjee’s token gestures towards Muslims have caused a communal divide without really empowering the community

Messaging
Mamata Banerjee at an Iftar party in Calcutta last June
Photograph by Sandipan Chatterjee
A Prayer Sent Out Loudly
outlookindia.com
2017-10-07T10:19:03+05:30

Of the long litany of complaints against West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, including her style of governance or the conduct of the ruling Trinamool Congress, the accusation of ‘app­­easement’ of Muslims—at a time the BJP is aggressively trying to expand its beachhead in the state—carries the greatest sting. Such allegations began with one of her earliest decisions, in 2012, a year after she came to power, to apportion a monthly honorarium of Rs 2,500 a month for each of Bengal’s 30,000 Imams out of tax-payers’ money. In February 2012, she had declared that Urdu would be given ‘second language status’ after Bengali, and during a religious meet later that year had ann­ounced plans to introduce a scheme in which “landless, homeless” Imams would be eligible for three kottahs (one kottah is 720 square feet) of land each to construct a house, which would be funded by the government. Since then, other fiats by Mamata, like the ann­oun­cement that 10,000 madrasas would be affiliated to the...

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