Budgetary provision for culture increased by 10-fold in past 9-and-a-half years: TMC
Kolkata: Indranil Sen, minister of state for Information and Cultural Affairs stating that he was proud to be associated with Mamata Banerjee and the Trinamool Congress (TMC), said since the party to came to power in 2011 the budgetary provision for culture increased by 10-fold and was pegged at Rs 631 crore this year. Taking a dig at the saffron party, he said that BJP leaders, both local and outsiders, do not connect with "soul" of Bengal.
The minister said: "Before the TMC came to power in 2011, the cultural budget for the state was pegged at Rs 61 crore. But, in the past nine-and-a-half years—under the stewardship of Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee— the budgetary provision for culture increased by 10 folds. This year, the financial allocation for cultural affairs was pegged at Rs 631 crore."
Addressing a press conference at Trinamool Bhavan on Monday afternoon Sen said the leaders of the saffron party are ignorant about the rich cultural heritage and tradition of Bengal. "From Cooch Behar to Sunderbans there is a diverse culture in state. Bhawaiya, Bhatiali, Kirtan, Tushu, Bhadu have all contributed to consolidate Benglai's rich culture and tradition," he remarked.
"Under the leadership of Mamata Banerjee the state has also given importance to other languages spoken here. The state government has given official status to languages like Urdu, Odia, Santhali, Gurumukhi, Punjabi, Rajbangshi and Kamtapuri as per Official Language Act 1961.
The Mamata Banerjee government has worked for the welfare of all communities," stated the minister.
He said that after coming to power in 2011, Mamata Banerjee-led government took special interest to preserve the tradition of folk culture and 1.94 lakh folk artistes are given a monthly stipend of Rs 1,000. In addition to this, in every function organised by the state government, the folk artistes are invited to perform and they get performance fees. The Chief Minister has given musical instruments like dotara, ektara, dhol, dhamsa, madal to the accompanying artistes also.
"More than 3,000 Jatra artistes and 1,200 theatre personalities are given financial assistance by the state government. The budget of the Information and Cultural Affairs department has gone up 10 times in the past nine-and-a-half years," said reiterated. The state government has opened 10 academies like Nazrul Academy, Birsha Munda Academy, Kabita Academy, Dalit Sahitya Academy among others, informed the minister. There are 19 such academies in Bengal now. "Mamata Banerjee's Mavoi Project covers over 1,000 journalists," added Sen.
Referring to the Shibdas Bandopadhyay's song titled 'manush manush er e jonney', the minister insisted that Banerjee exemplified the same spirit and has worked for the welfare of folk artistes.
Drawing a parallel between Gabbar Singh, a character who was a dacoit in the famous Hindi movie 'Sholay', Sen said: "The outsiders are behaving like Gabbar Singh and have threatened the people of Bengal." Making an indirect jibe, the minister said Bengal would never prefer anyone like the tobacco-chewing dacoit 'Gabbar Singh' as representatives of their constituencies. Rather, people in Bengal like intellectuals like Rabindranath Tagore and Swami Vivekananda or matinee icons like Uttam Kumar and Kishore Kumar, among others."
Highlighting the dearth of cultural acumen of the BJP leaders, Sen sarcastically said: "On May 1, which is the birthday of Manna Dey, a BJP leader tweeted uploading a song of Kishore Kumar. Similarly, on August 4 which is Kishore Kumar's birthday, a leader uploaded a song by Mohammad Rafi." He said: "There is not a single BJP leader who can quote the names of 10 Bengali composers and 20 Bengali singers. If they can I will quit politics."
He alleged that the BJP leaders are trying to confuse people by putting forward the divisive and communal politics. "Bengal has never believed in narrow parochial outlook. Great musical personalities live V Balsara, dancer P Thankamany Kutty, classical singer AT Kanan had come from other states and had considered Bengal to be their home," he said, adding "The saffron leaders should know the Geography, weather and cultural tradition of Bengal before starting their work in the state."
Commenting on the all-party meeting called by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on December 04, the minister said: "Prior to the 21-day lockdown in March, none of the parties were informed about the announcement. Thus, such an all-party meeting is a show-off."