KOLKATA: Eyeing 2019 Lok Sabha elections, West Bengal Chief Minister and Trinamool Congress supremo Mamata Banerjee has finalised a Rs 300 crore-worth self-employment scheme for over 1 lakh jobless youth in rural Bengal.
Under the scheme, that has been sent to the finance ministry for approval before being sent to the cabinet, items necessary to set up cyber cafes, animal farms and vegetable farms would be disbursed through cooperative societies to the beneficiaries.
“The government hopes that over 1 lakh beneficiaries and their 5 lakh dependents will make monthly profits of around Rs 8,000-9,000 when their businesses are established. The scheme will later be implemented in urban areas as well,” cooperative minister Arup Roy said.
Sources revealed that Mamata Banerjee had ordered the cooperation department to undertake such a project two months ago. The project may be implemented in the rural areas within the next few months.
With BJP gaining grounds in rural areas of the state, political analysts believe that this move has been undertaken to regain lost grounds, especially in the western districts of the state where BJP performed well.
“Unemployment was a pressing issue in the state since decades and was claimed by Mamata Banerjee to be a Left Front legacy. However, the aspiring youth of Bengal who is exposed to social media sees that their Chief Minister has not brought big industries or large scale employment to the state over the past seven years. This is where BJP is gaining ground by showing the Gujarat model, where a substantial chunk of Bengal migrants work,” said Professor Dipanjan Sen.
There are 5,600 cooperative societies under which there are some 1.5 lakh Self Help Groups of 20 members each. However, mainly women work in these SHGs tying bidis whereas their husbands work as
migrant labourers in states such as Gujarat, Kerala and Tamil Nadu.