Kalyani Luminous Club Rejects Bengal Governor’s Durga Ratna Award

A replica of Grand Lisboa, the Macau based luxury hotel that is recreated as the puja pandal by the Luminous club at ITI ground in Kalyani town. Picture by Palash Sarkar.

Kalyani, Oct. 25: Kalyani based Luminous Club that was chosen by the Bengal Governor CV Ananda Bose for Durga Ratna award, has declined to accept the honor as a mark of protest for freezing of funds for rural job scheme by BJP led central government of which he is a nominated representative.

The club authorities on Wednesday evening formally announced decision, which they claimed taken out of “social commitment” and not for any “political reason”.

“We will feel honored if noticed that the Governor, who is actually a representative of centre, has managed to arrange payments of dues to the thousands of beneficiaries under the 100days job scheme in the state”, club’s chief mentor Arup Mukherjee, who is also a Trinamul Congress leader and councilor of Kalyani Municipality told the reporter, while urging the Governor to distribute the cash award among the beneficiaries.

Tala Prattoy, another club also refused to accept the order for different reason. The cub which is chosen for magnificent use of light and shade created by Artisan Susanta Pal, claimed that they did not participate in any such competition, while honoring the gesture by the office of the Governor.

Four puja organizing clubs in the state were chosen for the Durga Ratna award, instituted by the governor for the first time in the state as a recognition for outstanding pandal and for reflecting “essence of Bengaliana”. The Luminous club, which is mentioned in the governor’s order as “Kalyani ITI Pandal” was chosen for “Grandeur and Visual delight”. The club recreated Grand Lisboa, the Macau based luxury hotel that has been drawing huge crowd since October 16, when the pandal was formally inaugurated by Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee. Bose on Maha Sashthi paid a visit to the Luminous Club’s puja pandal in Kalyani. However, none of the official of the club and official of the Nadia administration met him.

A few hours after announcement of the award by the office of the Governor, the Luminous club authority in a hurriedly called meeting unanimously decided to refuse the award launched by Bose.

In last week, Bose announced this award, in parallel with the state government’s award, which is conferred in district wise to best puja organizer. Durga Ratna award carries a cash award of Rupees five lakhs, to be equally distributed among the recipients, apart from a citation and a plaque.

Freezing of funds has become a bone of contention between the state and the centre. Trinamul has made a major political plank with the party led the Bengal government’s claimed, the total amount of central dues under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act, commonly known as the 100-day assured job scheme, is about Rupees 7000 crore. The centre suspended the release of funds for payment due to an alleged “lack of transparency”.

On September 30, Trinamul Congress leader Abhishek Banerjee took around five thousand job card holders of the rural job scheme to New Delhi where they stated demonstration demanding release of their dues. A delegation of the party eventually failed to meet the minister to submit a deputation. The party later organized a demonstration in front of the Governor’s house in Calcutta, that later prompted Bose to assure Abhishek Banerjee to mediate in the matter.

However, amid the ongoing tussle between the Bengal government and centre, union rural development minister Giriraj Singh On October 19, reiterated that the dues will be cleared only when the centre is satisfied with “transparency” in the implementation of the job scheme.

Speaking to the reporters luminous club mentor Arup Mukherjee said, “It appears that the Governor has been playing a double standard. He knows everything but appears to be little active to get the dues cleared for the beneficiaries. So it would be a betrayal with the poor beneficiaries if we accept the award”.

“During the past few weeks on several times, we have seen people from the state lobbying in New Delhi for release of 100 days job schemes. People have been suffering a lot for their dues…So we have decided to humbly decline to accept the award in any cash form. We would also urge the Governor to distribute the award prize money to the beneficiaries and also at the same time appeal to him to talk to the centre, as he assured”. “If he can do this we will feel honored by him”, Mukherjee said.

The club members claimed the refusal is their contribution to the fight Abhishek Banerjee has begun against the suspension of fund by the centre. “The prize money announced by the Governor is a central sponsored fund, which we cannot accept in such a situation. He should do similar gesture for the beneficiaries to get the funds for the centre”. (Picture by Palash Sarkar)


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