NEW DELHI: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday virtually joined the commencement of Durga Puja celebrations in West Bengal and addressed the people extending his greetings to all on the biggest festival celebrated in the eastern state.
Invoking Goddess Durga, PM Modi reaffirmed his government’s irrevocable commitment to women’s empowerment alluding to the goddess who is seen as a symbol of shakti (strength).
“From opening Jan Dhan accounts for 22 crore women, giving soft loans to them under the Mudra Yojana, to launching Beti Bachao-Beti Padhao initiative, granting permanent commission to women in the armed forces and extending maternity leave from 12 to 26 weeks, we have taken a number of steps for their empowerment,” he told a gathering at Durga Puja celebration organised by the BJP.
The BJP had made elaborate arrangements for live viewing of the prime minister’s virtual address from the national capital. The address was live streamed in at least 10 puja pandals across the state, including the one at EZCC in Salt Lake which is being organised by the Bengal BJP’s women’s wing for the first time. The address was also streamed in 78,000 polling booths of the state’s 294 constituencies, amidst social distancing norms.
As the PM took part in the commencement of Durga Puja celebrations in Kolkata, via video link, he said anti-rape laws were made more stringent to include death penalty.
“We are alert towards the security of women,” he said.
The prime minister’s remark came in the backdrop of a string of incidents of rape and murder of women, including the Hathras incident that shocked the nation and triggered outrage against the BJP government in Uttar Pradesh.
The prime minister recalled the contributions of reformers from Bengal like Ram Mohun Roy and Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar, spiritual leaders Ramkrishna Paramhans and Swami Vivekananda, cultural giant Rabindranath Tagore, and revolutionaries like Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose, Syama Prasad Mookerjee and Khudiram Bose in shaping India’s national identity.
Durga Puja, he said, was the epitome of pluralism and reflected the collective strength of India.
Assembly polls are likely in West Bengal around April-May next year.
(With inputs from agencies)