Kolkata, Feb 5: Hitting out at West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, her predecessor and CPI-M leader Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee Tuesday alleged that a temple-mosque agenda was surfacing in the state with the government’s decision to pay allowances to imams and muezzins.
In an interview to Bengali news channel ABP Ananda, the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) leader and former chief minister expressed concern over the state of affairs under Banerjee and said Bengal seemed to be regressing due to the government’s wrong priorities and in the absence of big industries, which is increasing unemployment among the youths.
“Why did the state government take responsibility of paying monthly allowances to imams and muezzins? The priests of all faiths – Islam, Hinduism or Christianity – have so far survived on the donations from the devout. Now because of the state’s decision, the BJP is raring its head and it is asking for similar allowances for Hindu priests,” Bhattacharjee said.
“Now we have a temple-mosque agenda in the state. She has not done the right thing by giving a lifeline to the BJP (Bharatiya Janata Party),” said Bhattacharjee, who was chief minister from November 2000 to May 2011.
Criticising the chief minister for her hands-off policy on land acquisition for industry, he said if the government does not take this responsibility, then the alternatives before the entrepreneurs is either to knock on the doors of the land mafia or give up on such projects.
Flaying the Banerjee government’s refusal to grant special economic zone (SEZ) status to IT firms like Infosys and Wipro, Bhattacharjee said his party was also opposed to big SEZs like the ones being set up in Maharashtra, Gurgaon in Haryana and Andhra Pradesh, which needed 10,000-12,000 acres of land.
“But in case of IT majors like Infosys and Wipro, what is the problem in giving 50 acres or 70 acres? Why should they open their campuses if you don’t give them such a concession? I had given my word to Wipro that I will give them SEZ. Now they are not going to come to this state.”
Bhattacharjee said while he knew the importance of agriculture, the state will not progress in the absence of industries. “During our time, we were first in India in paddy cultivation, second in potato cultivation. But agriculture alone cannot take us ahead.”