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regular-article-logo Monday, 27 May 2024

Lakshmir Bhandar will continue even if TMC loses power: Shah's virtual seal on Mamata dole

The assurance is seen as the BJP’s virtual acknowledgement of the success of the scheme under which Rs 1,000 is paid to the women in the general category and Rs 1,200 to those belonging to Schedules Castes (SCs) and Scheduled Tribes (STs)

Subhashis Chaudhuri Calcutta Published 15.05.24, 09:34 AM
Amit Shah at an election rally in Bongaon on Tuesday.

Amit Shah at an election rally in Bongaon on Tuesday. Chanchal Pal

Union home minister Amit Shah told an election rally on Tuesday that the BJP would continue the Mamata Banerjee government’s flagship welfare programme Lakshmir Bhandar even if the Trinamool Congress lost power in the state.

The assurance is seen as the BJP’s virtual acknowledgement of the success of the scheme under which Rs 1,000 is paid to the women in the general category and Rs 1,200 to those belonging to Schedules Castes (SCs) and Scheduled Tribes (STs).

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“Mamata didi has been saying that if the BJP comes to power, the Lakshmir Bhandar scheme will be stopped. But I assure you that the BJP will not stop any scheme at all,” Shah said to huge applause in Howrah’s Uluberia and added that Rs 100 would be added to the monthly dole.

“We will add Rs 100 more to the Lakshmir Bhandar scheme and transfer the amount to the accounts of the didis (women),” he said, accusing chief minister Mamata Banerjee of spreading a “lie” that the programme would be scrapped if Trinamool was not in power.

The announcement of the scheme was made inthe run-up to the 2021 elections and is believed to haveplayed a major role in Trinamool sweeping the polls for a third time with women voting for the party in large numbers.

Since then, in subsequent polls, the scheme had become a game-changer with women backing the ruling party, prompting the Opposition, particularly the BJP, to accuse the government of trying to “buy votes” using government funds.

Shah’s Tuesday announcement shows that the BJP has woken up to the reality and wants to show its commitment to continue the scheme at a time when state leaders had been attacking the intent of the “dole”.

Shah’s comment comes in the backdrop of a recent remark by a BJP leader from north Bengal, Dipa Chakraborty, who threatened to stop Lakshmir Bhandar if the saffron camp came to power.

The remark was used as a weapon by both Mamata and her nephew Abhishek Banerjee to attack the BJP.

“As reports from the ground suggest that the scheme has a huge people’s connection and is likely to impact the voting pattern of women in these polls, the central leadership of the BJP thought it wise to control the damage,” said a state-level BJP leader.

Responding to Shah’s announcement, Trinamool leader and minister Shashi Panja said: “Amit Shah was in Bengal today. In his speech, he said he would enhancethe money of the Lakshmi Bhandar scheme by Rs 100. Is he offering a bribe to the women of Bengal? As the BJP has sold the modesty of Sandeshkhali women for Rs 2,000, Rs 1,000 or Rs 500, today Amit Shah showed the audacity to offer a bribe of Rs 100 more under Lakhsmir Bhandar.”

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