Joining the controversy over a recent ban on sale of meat in Mumbai, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Monday said that her government will never interfere in people’s choice of food.
"Who will eat what is his or her prerogative. We are never going to interfere in people’s choice of food," Banerjee said at a programme of Minority Development department here.
She, however, did not name the BJP-led government in Maharashtra.
"I will not allow any divisiveness in my state, I believe in equal rights for all," she said at the programme at Netaji Indoor Stadium where thousands of people and students from minority communities were present.
There was outrage over the ban on sale of meat in Mumbai on September 17 during the Jain festival of Paryushan. The ban was stayed by Bombay High Court and Supreme Court later refused to quash it.
On the occasion, Banerjee gave away awards to meritorious students from minority communities, ranging from school children to those who cleared this year’s state civil service examinations.
She said her government was ready to help all those from minority communities in their life and career.
"We have spent Rs.2,400 crore for minority development while the previous (Left Front) government in the state had done little for them," she said.
"Alia University has been set up at a cost of Rs.236 crore and its Park Circus campus has come up at an expenditure of Rs.62 crore," the chief minister said.
Banerjee said 40 lakh cycles have been ordered to be given away to girl students from class IX to XII, irrespective of whether they are from minority or majority communities.
While most of the religious leaders present at the 25,000 capacity stadium sang paeans for Banerjee, Toha Siddique of Furfura Sharief struck a discordant note saying, "the chief minister may please note that officers in the Minority Affairs department are not working properly and are not following your orders."
The chief minister, however, stood by the department’s officers and in her speech said, "It is their (officers) good and tireless work that has made us achieve so much for the development of students and other people from minority communities."
"But if Toha Siddiqui or any one else has any personal grievance, they may contact MP Sultan Ahmed or state cabinet minister Firhad Haqim," Banerjee said.