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Netaji planning commission, Netaji police battalion — Mamata’s poll-year budget is big on Bose

Mamata Banerjee presented Budget for 2021-22 as Finance Minister Amit Mitra excused himself on account of health issues. State elections are slated to be held in the next two months.

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Kolkata: Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose and tribals were the special focus areas as Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee presented the Budget statement for 2021-22 and the vote on account in the West Bengal assembly Friday.

The vote on account, or interim budget, is presented by a government when elections are around the corner. It is meant to allow the government permission to claim funds for certain expenses until the succeeding administration takes over and presents the full Budget.

Banerjee presented the Budget for 2021-22 as Finance Minister Amit Mitra excused himself on account of health issues. Elections to the state assembly are slated in the next two months. 

Among the initiatives announced Friday was a Netaji State Planning Commission and a special battalion of Kolkata Police named after Bose. She also announced community centres called ‘Jai Hind Bhawans’ in all districts. 

“Jai Hind” is a slogan coined by an aide of Netaji to serve as a rallying call for recruits of his Azad Hind Fauj. 

Other announcements included an allocation of Rs 300 crore for setting up of close to 800 new schools in tribal-dominated areas, and the Gorkha-Kurmali-speaking regions in the north and western parts of the state, with an aim to encourage lessons in English as well as the residents’ mother tongues. 

Five hundred of these schools will be in tribal areas with Ol Chiki — the Santhal script — as the primary language, Banerjee said. Separate schools will be set up for Nepali-, Hindi-, Urdu- and Kurmali-speaking communities, she added. 

Government-affiliated but unaided madrassas have been promised government aid from now onwards. 

Additionally, her government has allocated Rs 1,500 crore to build 20 lakh new houses in areas inhabited by the SCs, STs and other backward communities. 

The Budget also seeks to counter the BJP’s criticism about Mamata Banerjee’s non-participation in the PM Kisan scheme, which promises an annual cash assistance of Rs 6,000 to farmers. To that end, the government has increased the annual allowance to Rs 6,000 from Rs 5,000 for farmers, and to Rs 3,000 from Rs 2,000 for share-croppers.

Also Read: Mamata refuses to speak at Netaji event after Jai Shri Ram chants, says she was humiliated

Focus on Netaji 

Mamata Banerjee has frequently criticised the Modi government for dismantling the Planning Commission and bringing in the Niti Aayog. 

Her Budget seeks to set up a planning commission for Bengal to be known as the Netaji State Planning Commission. The terms and conditions for the administrative body were not elaborated in the speech, but the government has allocated Rs 5 crore for the project. 

“Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose was first to give the idea of national planning in India. Unfortunately, the present central government abolished the Planning Commission. In memory of the contribution of Netaji, the state government will form a state planning commission and name it as Netaji State Planning Commission,” Banerjee said in her speech.  

Her government has allocated Rs 215 crore for several projects that seek to pay tribute to Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose, whose 125th birth anniversary was marked with much aplomb by the central government last month. 

Among other things, she has proposed a Rs 100 crore ‘Azad Hind Monument’ in New Town. 

The proposed ‘Jai Hind Bhawans’ in each district are meant to “motivate the young generation to build their life based on inspiration from Netaji’s life”. The bhawans, she added, will be used for education, sports, culture and other social activities. Rs 100 crore has been allocated for this. 

A sum of Rs 10 crore has been set aside for a ‘Netaji battalion’ to be raised under Kolkata Police.

Also Read: Masterstroke, desperation or calculated move? Why Mamata will fight from Nandigram

A boost for local languages

The Budget proposes to set up 100 English-medium schools, primarily aimed at the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes as well as other backward communities.

Then there are the 500 proposed schools for students who want to study in Ol Chiki, and 100 for those seeking lessons in Nepali, Hindi, Urdu, Kamtapuri and Kurmali. 

A further 100 schools will offer lessons in the Sadri language, commonly spoken among tea garden workers in north Bengal. 

The Rajbanshi language of the Koch Rajbongshi tribe, Banerjee said, would be introduced in 200 schools in the state.  

The Budget also seeks to address the concerns of para-teachers — as contractual teachers are known in Bengal — who have been protesting against the government for over three years now to demand a pay raise. 

Banerjee has proposed a salary hike of 3 per cent each year for them and an ex gratia of Rs 3 lakh after retirement.

Also Read: ‘Will suffer Mamata misrule, not BJP’ — Bengal intellectuals don’t want another ‘poriborton’


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