Mamata promises monthly stipend for imams in Bengal by Krishanu Mitra
he Muslim centric competitive politics of West Bengal is getting increasingly murkier and communal with each passing day. On April 3, 2012 at the Netaji Indore stadium complex, off the Calcutta High Court and a stone throw away from the Raj Bhawan, the Mamata Government organised what probably was the first of its kind conference in the whole country between a State government and the imams of different mosques. In her effort to consolidate the Muslim vote-bank in the upcoming Panchayat polls Mamata announced a monthly stipend of Rs 2,500/- to each and every imam of the State. Presently there are some 30,000 imams registered with the State Waqf Board.
Along with this Mamata also promised housing at very subsidised rates for the imams. She also announced the formation of a special task force under the chairmanship of Md. Abdul Gani, who is also the chairman of the State Waqf Board that will give recommendations within 15 days on this matter. Some 20,000 imams and Muslim religious heads attended the conference. The air inside the stadium was filled with the cries of Nara-e-Takbir, Allah-o-Akbar. The sheer grandeur and scale of the programme even baffled the imams. One imam who passed out from a seminary in Madina, Saudi Arabia observed that a government sponsored meeting of this type has never been organised even in Saudi Arabia. The said monthly stipend is to be routed through the State Waqf Board. As per my conversations with some Islamic scholars, this has been envisaged because no practicing Muslim will receive any assistance or help from a non-Muslim person or body. There is massive resentment among the general Hindus against this out and out communal agenda of the State government. Few recent incidents have exposed the biased attitude of the State administration in favour of Muslim groups. Only a few days back inspite of over 100 State transport buses being vandalised by the Muslim hooligans in the Rajabazar area of Kolkata the police are yet to take proper and definitive actions against them.
People complained that even while the police in Kolkata went all out to implement the recent strictures for auto-rickshaws vigorously, of not allowing them to take more than four passengers, strangely some Muslim dominated areas of Rajabazar, Metiaburuz, Khiddirpore were mysteriously absent from proportionate vigorous efforts. The State President of the BJP Shri Rahul Sinha while speaking with me called the announcements as ‘Totally communal’ and an attempt to purchase the imams. He further said, “This government did the same with the clubs a few weeks back when the government showered crores on clubs.
These though ended up benefiting a handful of officials but didn't help the genuine sportsmen and women a bit. In the same way the government is attempting to bribe the Muslim religious heads in anticipation of popular Muslim support, while ignoring the poor Muslims altogether.” He further said “The BJP appeals to all Muslim religious heads to refuse this nasty attempt by the State government to bribe them and purchase their trust and conscience.” Shri Sinha made it clear that the BJP will avail all legal options in case the government attempts to implement this. But the larger question is what is the limit to this appeasement politics? Is these amounts to treating Hindus as second class citizens? Aren't these equivalent to the bringing back the same precursors to Partition?
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