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December 21, 2018

Mamata Banerjee’s message of unity at Kolkata Christmas Festival inauguration

Mamata Banerjee’s message of unity at Kolkata Christmas Festival inauguration

Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee today inaugurated the 8th Kolkata Christmas Festival today at Allen Park, Park Street. On the occasion, she prayed to Jesus Christ to fill this world with peace, unity and harmony.

The CM also slammed the Centre for trying to trample upon the rights of the people.

Highlights of the Chief Minister’s speech:

We love Christmas (Borodin). We wait in anticipation for this day. We are delighted to meet all of you.

Festivals are a part of Bengali culture. We show the way to the world. Durga Puja is a big festival in our State. We celebrate Kali Puja, Deepavali, Chhath Puja, and also Eid.

Rural Bangla celebrates Poush Mela and Pithe Utsav to usher in the new year.
People are in a festive mood during the winter season. People also go for vacations and holidays during this period and enjoy themselves.

Festivities begin with the Christmas cake and end with pithe-puli and Gangasagar Mela.

We had started the Christmas Festival eight years ago. We are very happy that it has spread to different parts of Bangla now.

Last year we had given benefits of Gatidhara scheme to unemployed youth last year at the inaugural ceremony of Christmas Festival. Today we have handed over benefits of monthly pension scheme to senior journalists. We have also launched another health benefit scheme for journalists called Mabhoi.

We have instituted Lok Prasar Prakalpa for folk artistes. Nearly 2 lakh artistes have benefitted. We also have pension scheme for farmers and widows.

Our Kanyashree scheme for the girl child has been extended to all the girls now. The income ceiling has been removed. The scheme has now been extended to university students also.

We have distributed scholarships to nearly 1.7 crore minority students and 70 lakh SC/ST students. We lay great importance on education in Bangla.

Nearly 8.5 crore people in the State receive rice at Rs 2/kg in Bangla under the Khadya Sathi scheme. 50 lakh people receive the same at half the price. So, 9 out of 9.5 crore people in the State have been covered.

We provide healthcare for free at government hospitals. We have also set up fair price medicine shops and fair price diagnostic shops which offer up to 60-70 per cent discount.

We also provide financial assistance of Rs 2,000 to poor families for the cremation/burial of their near and dear ones.

Under the Baitarani scheme, we have renovated burial grounds, Jahar thans (of tribals) and crematoriums. If the Christian community needs any assistance, please let us know, we will be happy to help.

Bangla is the only State in India where there is no discrimination; no riots are allowed here. Hindus, Buddhists, Sikhs, Christians, Parsis, Muslims – everyone lives here in harmony. Religion is personal, festivals are for all.

I love visiting the church at midnight on Christmas eve. I see many non-Christian people there. This is the spirit of ‘Sarva Dharma Samannay’. Every religion stands for humanity. Every religion is universal. Every religion preaches about love and unity. Every religion prays for peace.

Christmas is a festival of peace and love. It is a festival of dedication and determination.

I want democracy in the country to be strengthened. The media must be more vocal in future. Do not surrender before anyone. If the media bows down before anyone, democracy will be in danger. We are worried about what is happening in the country today.

Just like the media plays an important role in a democracy. Judiciary gives justice to people. If justice is delayed, it is denied. Freedom of expression is also under attack now.

This morning I saw a notification which says, there will be blanket surveillance on all computers. And this is not even for special circumstances, but in general. If we fail to provide all the data, we will face jail term. Will this be acceptable to an industrialist, or a student or a common man?

When linking Aadhaar to phone was made compulsory, we protested. Our MLA Mahua Moitra also went to court. We fought, and finally Supreme Court ruled against that order. What about privacy?

In 2009, there was a similar notification, but the phrase “under unavoidable circumstances” was included. Today’s notification empowers ten agencies, and there is no mention of “unavoidable circumstances”.

The Home Ministry notification seeks to invade the privacy of all users. It must be withdrawn. Just clarifications are not enough. It can be misused against students, youths, employees, institutions.

We take oath of secrecy. Now even our data will be available to these agencies. Then what is the purpose of this oath?

We are citizens of a free country. Our rights and privacy are being trampled upon. In the name of gau rakshak, lynchings have become rampant. So many people have been killed. Farmers have committed suicide.

The unorganised sector, traders, youths have lost jobs due to demonetisation and GST. In Bangla we have reduced unemployment. Centre says they will double farmers’ income by 2022. In Bangla it is already successful – we have tripled the income, despite the huge debt burden.

We have set up 26 new universities, 300 SNSUs, 100 SNCUs, mother and child hubs and many more world-class infrastructure. Institutional delivery rate has increased from 65% to 95% in Bangla. Six new police commissionerates have been set up.

In one or two years, when the new metro routes become operational, they will revolutionise the transport sector. I had planned these routes as Railway Minister. I always make three-fold plans for any developmental initiative – short-term, middle term and long term. We cannot be short-sighted while making plans.

We must be focussed on welfare of the people, not hate, divisive politics and discrimination. What Naseeruddin Shah Ji has said is significant. He is worried whether his children will be able to live in this country. This government even cancelled the holiday on December 25 in the past. We had written letters in protest.

Hindu religion is universal. BJP did not exist when Ramakrishna Paramhansa, Swami Vivekananda preached about Hinduism. Who are they to decide what one will wear or eat? Is this how a country runs?

We want democracy to be restored, peace to be restored, secularism to be restored, harmony to be restored. Let us think for unity, let us work for unity, let us speak for unity.

India is a country of diversities – every State has a different culture and language. This is the beauty of India.

I pray to God to give us peace, humanity. Let us protect our Constitution. Let us protect our institutions. Those who do not believe in humanity have no right to be in public life.