Following the current makeover strategy for the TMC, West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee has announced several benefits for retired journalists. In a move seemingly aimed at appeasing the journalist community, According to a report in The New Indian Express Mamata Banerjee has announced that the state government would bring a statuary law so that job guarantee can be given to journalists working in the state.
While speaking at the inauguration of the platinum jubilee celebrations at the Press Club Kolkata, West Bengal Chief Minister called for the club itself to draft the bill and submit it to the concerned state department for analysis before it can be tabled in the assembly.
Also following on her earlier announcement of a pension scheme under which retired journalists were to be given Rs 2500; Mamata Banerjee announced a second list of 69 retired journalists for the same. Earlier in December 2018 first list of 30 retired journalists was announced. In the same event, Mamata Banerjee also donated 3.5 cottas of land for press club, Kolkata permanent building at Nonadanga on EM Bypass and another 10 cottas land for the purpose of building complex for journalists. Chief Minister also made a personal donation of 100,001 to press club, Kolkata from her personal book royalty earnings.
Nonetheless, these developments surely point out towards Mamata Banerjee’s efforts towards streamlining TMC’s electoral campaign for the upcoming state assembly elections. As TMC struggles massively to save political ground from the BJP, these benefits given to the journalists might help Mamata Banerjee project a positive image among the journalists that have been tarnished over the past few years due to the continually deteriorating law and order conditions in the state and rampant political violence.
This general election saw the TMC losing massive political ground to the BJP. The saffron party, given clear strategy and groundwork, has been successful in making huge political inroads in the state, with its vote percentage jumping from a mere 17 % in 2014 to more than 40% in 2019 general election. Jump in the total seats won by the BJP in West Bengal, from 2 in 2014 general election to 18 in the 2019 general election also followed this spike in vote percentage. As the Political temperature in West Bengal, looking at the upcoming assembly elections continues to rise, Mamata Banerjee seems to have been banking long term standing strategy of the TMC –appeasement.
Media is supposed to play the role of watchdog and not the PR agency of the ruling party. These benefits and support given to journalists are sure to raise eyebrows; however, Mamata Banerjee has been unapologetic with her appeasement tactics. Earlier she was called out for her bigotry when under her orders several individuals were detained for chanting ‘Jai Shri Ram’. A video had also surfaced which showed Mamata Banerjee stopping her convoy and confronting a few individuals who were chanting Jai Shri Ram as she was moving from one political event in Kharagpur to another. Bengal Police playing at the whims of TMC government had detained three individuals in Ghatal where the whole sequence of events unfolded.
— Rahul Roy (@RahulRo64290353) May 5, 2019
Nonetheless, it remains to be seen if the pseudo-secular media in West Bengal, which has been evidently playing down the rampant political violence and trying to weed out the negative aspects of Mamata Banerjee’s rule will change track and put out the real picture for the public.