While the Muslim vote bank has always been a factor in deciding governments in the country, ever since BJP’s rise in 2014 the Hindu voters are also increasingly becoming a factor in elections. Nowadays, the non BJP parties are also taking extra care to not to lose out on their Hindu voters even when trying to woo the minorities.
One of the biggest and most anticipated elections next year is going to be in West Bengal, where for the first time a right-wing Hindutva party in BJP is looking to capture the power. They are pitched against Mamata Banerjee led Trinamool Congress, a party which has often been accused of playing Muslim appeasement card, not just by BJP but also by Congress and the Communists.
In such scenario, this time around TMC is trying hard, not only to keep its loyal Muslim voters around but also to prevent the Hindus from going BJP way. In order to do this, Mamata Banerjee led Government in past few months has taken several steps to lure the Hindus, the most latest of which came on Tuesday, November 24th.
In an administrative review meeting in Bankura, Chief Minister Banerjee approved a proposal pitched by MLA Shyamal Santra to fund renovation of shrines of Goddess Manasa Devi.
“You have formed boards for Bauri and Bagdi communities, one of the main deities patronized by our people is Manasa. People here work in fields, there are small shrines of Goddess Manasa under trees. There are such shrines in every locality. If these platforms could be… It would take small amount, around 50,000-60,000 each,” Kotulpur MLA Shyamal Santra was speaking when Mamata Banerjee suddenly interrupted him mid way.
“We already have such plans, I have asked Alapan (West Bengal’s Chief Secretary) to convey this to all. We are already building burial grounds, renovating Johar thans (shrines), let us also renovate Manasa Devi’s thans (shrines), they already have this under SC category, do this all slowly,” Banerjee said.
“Manasa Devi is specially worshiped in Bankura, Purulia and Jhargram,” Banerjee further observed.
Considered to be Goddess of snakes and serpents, Manasa Devi is patronized by Tribal and schedule castes populace in West Bengal, especially those who work in fields and seek out protection from venomous reptiles.
Earlier in September, Mamata Banerjee government announced a monthly honorarium of Rs 1,000 for the poor Hindu priests in the state. Banerjee had said that many priests in the state are above 60 years of age and find it difficult to meet their expenses and so to provide them some relief, this new scheme is being initiated.
Apart from the honorarium, Banerjee also promised that special accommodation would be made for poor priests in the state government run housing scheme, ‘Bangla’r awas yojana.” Banerjee also announced that she has given a land for only Rs 1 for making a hermitage to an Hindu organization named ‘Sanatana Dharma,’ which first brought the plight of the priests to her notice.