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




KOLKATA: 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,” Mamata 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 Academy.

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 CPM criticized the state government’s decision of allowance to Hindu priests and setting up of a Hindi Academy claiming that they are “poll gimmicks”.

“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 government.

“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.

CPM central committee member Sujan Chakraborty said that such “politics of dole” will further deepen the communal divide in the state.

The Times of India is an Indian English-language daily newspaper owned by The Times Group. It is the third-largest newspaper in India by circulation and largest selling English-language daily in the world. according to Audit Bureau of Circulations.

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Govt tells why it stopped listing farm suicide cause




NEW DELHI: The government on Monday told the Rajya Sabha that the national data on causes of suicides in the farming sector had become “untenable” with several states and Union Territories reporting ‘nil’ suicides by farmers and agricultural labourers, and was therefore not published separately.

Reply to a query from Congress MP P L Punia seeking confirmation of and reasons for NCRB having done away with listing causes for farmers’ suicides in its annual report on ‘ Accidents and Suicides in India’, Junior home minister G Kishan Reddy said: “As informed by National Crime Records Bureau, many states/ UTs had reported “nil” data on suicides by farmers/ cultivators and agricultural labourers, even while reporting suicides in other professions. Due to this limitation, data on causes of suicide in farming sector was untenable and not published separately”.

As per the NCRB report, West Bengal, Bihar, Odisha, Uttarakhand, Manipur, Chandigarh, Daman & Diu, Delhi, Lakshadweep and Puducherry reported ‘zero’ suicides by farmers, cultivators and agricultural labourers in 2019. This was also the case in 2018, with West Bengal, Bihar, Odisha, Uttarakhand, Meghalaya, Goa, Chandigarh, Daman & Diu, Delhi, Ladakh and Puducherry returning ‘nil’ suicides.

Overall, 10,281 suicides by farmers, cultivators and agricultural labourers were reported countrywide last year, down from 10,349 in 2018. Of the 10,281 suicides, 5,957 were by farmers or cultivators and 4,324 by labourers. Maharashtra accounted for the highest share (38.2%) in suicides related to the farm sector in 2019, followed by Karnataka (19.4%), Andhra (10%), MP (5.3%) and Telangana/Chhattisgarh (4.9% each).

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LS passes FCRA Bill; govt says it’s not against any religion




NEW DELHI: The Lok Sabha on Monday passed a bill to amend the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act to make furnishing of Aadhaar numbers of office-bearers of any NGO mandatory for registration and also effect other changes.

Amid concerns raised by various opposition members about The Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Amendment Bill, 2020, junior home minister Nityanand Rai asserted that the bill is not against any religion or NGO. The proposed legislation will also not stop foreign contributions in any way, he noted.

The bill, which also seeks to bar public servants from receiving funds from abroad, was passed after a discussion in the Lower House even as many opposition parties raised objections to the bill. According to Rai, there was misuse of funds by way of transferring the money to other entities and the bill seeks to curb such things. “We will stop misuse of funds,” he stressed.

Congress’s Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury said there is a political agenda in bringing the bill and claimed that things are being done to protect PM-CARES Fund. TMC’s Sougata Roy said the bill was to tighten all the organisations getting funds from abroad. When the SC has said that Aadhaar was not compulsory, then “why should you (government) make Aadhaar compulsory,” he asked.

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‘385 Pakistanis among 409 to get citizenship’




NEW DELHI: As many as 385 Pakistanis, six Bangladeshis, 5 US nationals and 3 Malaysians were among the 409 foreigners granted Indian citizenship until September 17 this year, the government told Rajya Sabha on Monday.

Among the countries whose nationals became Indian citizens in 2020 are Indonesia (2); and Afghanistan, Sri Lanka, Nepal, UK, Tanzania, Iran and Switzerland (all one each). Junior home minister Nityanand Rai said a total 2,729 foreigners were granted Indian citizenship since 2017. Most of these were from Pakistan, with 2,120 Pakistani were granted Indian citizenship between 2017 and September 17 this year.


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