TMC Banks on Lakshmir Bhandar Scheme to Woo West Bengal’s Women Voters; BJP Calls It Bid to Buy People


West Bengal chief minister and TMC chairperson Mamata Banerjee. (File image: PTI)

West Bengal chief minister and TMC chairperson Mamata Banerjee. (File image: PTI)

Sources in the Trinamool Congress say they believe Lakshmir Bhandar will be a game changer in the ongoing seven-phase general elections. The state government data says it has significantly hiked the funding for Lakshmir Bhandar to Rs 14,400.05 crore for the fiscal year 2024-25, constituting approximately 4% of the total budget allocation

Mahua Moitra starts her campaign by asking people, “Have you got Lakshmir Bhandar”. Kirti Azad does the same. This practice is not only restricted to Mahua and Kirti but is followed by all the other 40 Lok Sabha candidates of the Trinamool Congress in West Bengal.

Sources in the TMC say they believe Lakshmir Bhandar will be a game changer in the ongoing seven-phase general elections.

According to them, Trinamool candidates too tell the party that the scheme is having a huge effect.

Lakshmir Bhandar was launched by the state’s Mamata Banerjee government in 2021. It provides women belonging to the general category with a stipend of Rs 1,000 every month, while the amount for Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe women is Rs 1,200.

The scheme has extended its coverage to 2.11 crore beneficiaries, positively impacting the lives of countless women across the state, say officials.

Party insiders say this will definitely change the game even after the Sandeshkhali row.

Half of the electorate in Bengal comprises women and the TMC’s motive was to woo them.

Trinamool Congress MP Kakoli Ghosh Dastidar told News18, “Mamata Banerjee has come up with the pathbreaking Lakshmir Bhandar. Women are getting money in their hands and now through this they have a say in their families. Why will women listen to the fake narrative of Sandeshkhali? Moreover, when we are going for campaigning, people are telling us about Lakshmir Bhandar. They will rather give Didi a vote because they know if Didi remains here then the rights of women will be saved.”

The state government data says it has significantly hiked the funding for Lakshmir Bhandar to Rs 14,400.05 crore for the fiscal year 2024-25, constituting approximately 4% of the total budget allocation.

TMC sources say some internal surveys indicate that 87% of the women believe if Lakshmir Bhandar continues for five years, they will benefit immensely, reiterating the concept of flow and security. So, the party is keeping this scheme at the centre of its campaign ahead of anything else. The fact that the Sandeshkhali issue has seemingly taken a turn will also be highlighted, but Lakshmir Bhandar will dominate the TMC’s electioneering.

The National Commission for Women (NCW) had earlier recommended President Droupadi Murmu to consider imposing President’s rule in West Bengal due to reported atrocities against women and violence in the Sandeshkhali area. On Thursday, a couple of women from Sandeshkhali alleged that a local leader from the BJP had made them sign blank papers, which were later filled out as complaints of sexual assault.

Later NCW chief Rekha Sharma on Friday wrote to the Election Commission of India (ECI), expressing concern over reports that several women in Sandeshkhali, who were allegedly sexually assaulted by associates of now-arrested Trinamool member Sheikh Shajahan, are being forced by TMC workers to withdraw their complaints.

Speaking about Lakshmir Bhandar, BJP MP Locket Chatterjee said, “They want to buy women through that, they can do that only, but this time the people will not accept their false theory. What is important is the prestige of women. Bengal is unsafe.”

Explore the detailed schedule and key constituencies of the 2024 Lok Sabha Election’s Fourth Phase



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