West Bengal Chief minister Mamata Banerjee has announced a Rs 1,000 monthly allowance and free housing scheme for 8,000 "poor Sanatan Brahmin priests".
"The Brahmin priests of the Sanatan Dharma, who for years carry out prayers in temples, have never received any help. There is a section among them who are very poor… ," she said.
To help them financially, the government decided to give them Rs 1,000 and provide them houses under the Bangla Abas Yojna scheme. They have already submitted the names of 8,000 poor Brahmins. They will get their allowance before Puja," she added.
She added that she had meetings with representatives of the Sanatan Dharma and they had asked for a plot of land. A land in Kolaghat was alloted to them where a pilgrim site will come up.
The Trinamool Congress chief has also announced the formation of a Dalit Sahitya Academy, which will be headed by writer Manoranjan Byapari, and reconstituted the existing Hindi Academy.
"We had already started a Santhal Academy. We already gave recognition to Santhali, Rajbanshi and other marginal languages. We have announced the formation of a Matua Development Board. The members of the development board are yet to be decided." said the Chief Minister while announcing a 14-member committee that will set up the Dalit Sahitya Academy.
Meanwhile BJP leader Rahul Sinha reacted that Mamata Banerjee's move is from her realisation that her party will lose the coming Assembly elections.
"The government is talking about Brahmins, Hindi-Sanskrit and Dalit literature. Why did they not speak about these earlier? The people of West Bengal know that after the elections Mamata will forget these things." said Sinha in response to the Chief Minister's announcements.
Saying this as a very dangerous trend and unfortunate CPI(M) leader Sujan Chakraborty lashed out out at the government.
"At this time, the state government should have done something for the helpless youth or for the poor people. Instead of doing so, the state government is doing dirty religious politics." said Chakraborty.
The West Bengal government is not the only government which extends such special benefits to Brahmins. The Andhra Pradesh (AP) government had set up AP Brahmin Welfare Corporation in 2014. The stated goal of Corporation was to "provide support for the upliftment of Poor Brahmins in the society".
The AP government also made the position of the Brahmin priests hereditary in 2019.
Karnataka state government followed in the footsteps of the AP government by setting up Karnataka State Brahmin Development Board in 2019.
(With inputs from agencies)