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CM keeps it brief at Id prayers

Calcutta, July 29: Mamata Banerjee today kept her address to the Id gathering on Red Road brief and made no reference to the state government’s development work for the minority community, in a deviation from her usual practice.

The chief minister also did not make any announcements for the community unlike in the past three years.

“I am here to wish you Id mubarak. I was with you, I am with you and I will remain with you. Sabai bhalo thakun (All of you stay well),” Mamata said. The chief minister left the venue within five minutes.

Sources attributed the changed stance to the surge of the BJP in Bengal. Trinamul sources said the BJP was “running a campaign along communal lines” and the Bengal ruling party could not afford to alienate any community.

State BJP president Rahul Sinha said the people of Bengal did not like the “policy of appeasement”.

“The minority community is realising that the government is fooling them. So many are looking away from Trinamul,” Sinha said.

At the Id gatherings on Red Road in the past three years, the chief minister had drawn attention to the work done by her government for the minorities. She had referred to the reservation in government jobs and higher education for backward Muslims, scholarships for students from the minority community, marketing complexes for self-help groups and minority bhavans in the districts.

“Earlier, she used to speak at length even at Iftars about her plans for the welfare of the community. This time, she did not say a single word on such issues at any of the Iftars she attended,” said Abdul Aziz, the general secretary of the Milli Ittehad Parishad, an umbrella organisation of the minorities. Aziz was present at today’s Id prayers on Red Road.

Trinamul leaders close to the chief minister said the emergence of the BJP could be one of the factors behind Mamata keeping a low profile today.

“The BJP is trying to establish itself as the main Opposition force in Bengal. With the decline of the Left and the Congress, leaders and workers of the two parties are flocking to the BJP. There is the threat of a large section of voters getting alienated because of the BJP’s campaign along communal lines. Mamatadi cannot allow that,” a Trinamul leader close to Mamata said.

Trinamul sources said Mamata would continue with her welfare schemes for the minority community but avoid using religious platforms to speak about them.

“Announcements can be made from a political dais. It is better not to use other platforms as it could send a wrong message,” a source said.