KOLKATA: West Bengal pradesh Congress committee president Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury Friday accused the TMC government of trying to "bribe" the Hindus by announcing doles for Durga Puja committees and Hindu Brahmins and claimed that it is desperate to project itself as a "bigger brand of Hindutva" than the BJP.
Chowdhury, who is also the leader of Congress in Lok Sabha, said that instead of getting into "competitive Hinduism" with BJP, the TMC government should "focus on creating job and industries".
"Yesterday we saw Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee announcing Rs 50,000 for Durga Puja committees and other doles after projecting TMC as the messiah of Muslims by propagating that the state government has given allowances to Imams and muezzins.
"The TMC is now busy projecting itself as the mascot of brand Hindutva to counter BJP. And in doing so, it is now giving allowances to Hindu priests and grants to Durga Puja committees. She (Banerjee) is trying to bribe the Hindus," Chowdhury said.
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Banerjee had on Thursday doubled the annual financial assistance to 37,000 Durga Puja committees across the state to Rs 50,000.
The development came close to heels of the state governments' announcement of providing free housing and a monthly allowance to 8000 Hindu priests of the state.
"The fact is the state government is not giving allowance to Imams and muezzins. It is the state Wakf board which provides those allowances.
"Now the TMC is not bothered about Muslim votes. It wants Hindu votes to compete with BJP. The TMC is now engaged in competitive Hinduism," he said.
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The TMC government had announced a monthly allowance for Imams and muezzins in 2012.
The Calcutta High Court had in 2013 dubbed the government's decision as "unconstitutional and against public interest".
The TMC government had then created a separate fund under the Wakf Board for the upkeep of the properties that it held.
The fund also took care of the emoluments of the Imams and muezzins.
Chowdhury held the TMC government and its policies responsible for the rise of the BJP in Bengal and accused the ruling dispensation of "destroying the secular fabric of the state".
The TMC dubbed the allegations by Chowdhury as '"baseless".
"The TMC believes in secular and inclusive politics. The Congress leader before pointing his finger at us, should come out clean on why that party is colluding with BJP against us in Bengal," TMC secretary general Partha Chatterjee said.