Eye on youth vote, Mamata showers cash on 1614 clubs

Eye on youth vote, Mamata showers cash on 1614 clubs.

In an apparent bid to woo youths ahead of the panchayat elections, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Friday announced that 1,614 clubs across 19 districts would get Rs 2 lakh each for undertaking various activities including strengthening sports infrastructure.

The decision — which will cost the exchequer more than Rs 32 crore — comes at a time when the state faces an acute financial crisis which the chief minister has dubbed as a gift given to her government by the previous Left regime.

Inaugurating the cheque distribution programme at Netaji Indoor Stadium, Mamata said, "The small clubs produce sportspersons who play for the big clubs. No one speaks about the small clubs even though they contribute a lot." She handed over cheques to a few clubs at the ceremony.

Last year, the state government had given Rs 2 lakh each to 781 clubs selected mostly by lawmakers belonging to Mamata's party. This time, the sports department has decided to give financial aid to 1,614 clubs.

The state government will give financial assistance to these clubs for the next six years and on the sixth year, the sports department will review the performance of the clubs, she said. The first year, each club will get Rs 2 lakh and from the second year they will get Rs 1 lakh each.

Mamata also urged the clubs to act as protectors of society and keep a close watch on their areas in order to prevent crime. Providing security round the clock to lakhs of people with limited police manpower is difficult, and so the clubs have to shoulder the responsibility, she said. The clubs will have to protect the honour of the sisters and that of the state as a whole, she said, as well as stop thefts and robberies.

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