KOLKATA: With an eye on the 2021 assembly elections, the Trinamool Congress administration in West Bengal on Tuesday launched its massive outreach campaign 'Duare Sarkar' (government at doorsteps) to ensure that people avail the benefits of 11 state-run welfare schemes and also to hear out their grievances related to the programmes.
Elections to the 294-member state assembly are due in April-May next year.
People were seen queuing up in at least 20,000 camps set up in all the panchayats and municipal wards in the state to avail the benefits of the schemes.
The outreach programme will continue till January 30.
With slogan 'jar jekhane darkar, asche apnar duare sarkar' (government will be at your doorsteps whenever you need it), the programme will be conducted for two months in four phases.
The first phase of the programme will be held from December 1-11, the second from December 15-24, the third from January 2-12 and the last from January 18-30.
The camps will be functional from 10 am to 4 pm every day.
"GoWB's initiative #DuareSarkar brings govt services at people's doorstep! Happy to see that the camps have started in full-swing.
I urge people to get their grievances redressed & avail other services at these camps," Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee tweeted.
"This is a revolutionary step taken by our government to ensure that no one is left out.
All those who are eligible for the schemes will get the benefits.
For example, Swastha Sathi (health scheme) will cover the entire population of the state," Municipal Affairs Minister Firhad Hakim said while inaugurating a ward office here.
The schemes include globally acclaimed 'Kanyashree', a cash transfer programme aimed at retaining girls in schools and preventing their early marriage, 'Khadya Sathi' which aims at ensuring food security for 90 per cent of the population and 'Sikhashree', a one-time grant to SC and ST students studying in classes 5-8 to reduce their dropout rates.
Other schemes include 'Rupashree', a one-time grant of Rs 25,000 to poor families during their daughter's marriage, 'Jai Johar' for the betterment of STs, 'Taposili Bandhu' pension scheme for SCs and 'Aikyashree' scholarship programme for students from minority communities.
"Duare Sarkar is an innovative programme which is nowhere else in the world.
It is a great initiative of Mamata Banerjee," Panchayat Minister Subrata Mukherjee said.
The opposition parties, however, hit out at the state government for "failing" to deliver the schemes to date and questioned its ability to redress people's grievances.
State BJP chief Dilip Ghosh alleged that the TMC government kicked off its election campaign using public money.
"They are using public money for the election campaign.
After 10 years, if the state government has to launch a campaign to ensure everybody gets the benefits, then the TMC leaders should be ashamed of themselves," Ghosh said.
CPI(M) leader Sujan Chakraborty alleged that the state government rolled out the 'Duare Sarkar' initiative as the Panchayat Department has failed to deliver the schemes.
"This shows the Panchayat Department has totally failed.
That is the reason they have started this programme now," he said.
Congress MP Pradip Bhattacharya questioned whether the government will be able to redress people's grievances.
"I will ask only one question.
You are going to all the households but will you redress their grievances? Will you really be able to redress them?" Bhattacharya said.
Hakim, while responding to the allegations, said Ghosh should first answer about the amount of public money spent by the BJP-led government at the Centre on its publicity campaign.
"The Congress and the CPI(M) have joined hands with the BJP in West Bengal.
The Left Front did not do anything during their 34-year-long rule in the state.
Now, when we are doing something, they are trying to spread canards against us," he added.