You are not outsiders: Mamata to Hindi-speaking populace
Kolkata: Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee urged people coming from Bihar and Uttar Pradesh "never to feel like outsiders" as it is the tradition in Bengal to embrace one and all irrespective of their region, religion, caste or creed.
The Chief Minister was addressing a gathering to inaugurate Chhath Puja at Dahi Ghat in Hastings on Tuesday afternoon.
Criticising the secessionist forces, she said: "It is the culture in Bengal to welcome people from different states and communities. We live peacefully here. I participate in Durga Puja and also take part in Eid, Christmas, Guru Nanak's birthday and in Chhath Puja. We consider those coming from different communities to be our own family members." Referring to state Urban Development and Municipal Affairs minister Firhad Hakim, she said: "Take the case of Firhad (Bobby). His mother was Mukherjee and his father was a Muslim but nobody has criticised him for that," she said adding: "I request my brothers and sisters who have come from Bihar and Uttar Pradesh never to feel like outsiders. This is their own state. There are people from those two states who have been staying in Bengal for several generations and who speak better Bengali than us."
She said it is unfortunate that "some forces" are trying to "disturb" the social fabric of the state. "But their efforts will not yield results as we will continue to carry on with our long and cherished tradition of social harmony and peace."
Recalling her age-old association with the Chhath Puja organisers at Dahi Ghat, she said: "I had first come to offer Puja in 1985 after I was elected as an MP in 1984. Since then, I have been coming to Dahi Ghat every year."
She further said the condition of the ghat was deplorable. But over the years, the state government, Urban Development department and the police have worked together and carried out renovation there.
Banerjee said every step has been taken to ensure that the Chhath Puja devotees can offer their prayers peacefully. Bright lights have been installed at the ghat and the police and local clubs are working together to maintain peace in the area.
The Chief Minister also urged people to cooperate with the administration to make the festival a grand success. "We should not do anything that hurts the feelings and sentiments of others and should observe any festival with peace and serenity."