In Durga Puja Speech, PM Modi Pays Tribute to Bengal's Icons, Lists Centre's Welfare Schemes

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Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday virtually joined the Durga Puja celebrations in West Bengal, asking people to maintain social distancing and wear masks as they ring in the festival.

"This time we are all celebrating Durga Puja amid the crisis of coronavirus. Devotees of Maa Durga, organizers of pandals, all have shown amazing restraint this time. The number may have been affected, but the grandeur is the same, the divinity is the same," said PM Modi.

The prime minister paid tribute to the icons of the state, saying: "Whenever the need was felt in India's history, Bengal has always led the way for India and shown the path. There have been many renowned people who have come from Bengal and have contributed immensely in guiding the nation is the right direction."

Listing an array of Bengali freedom fighters, writers, artistes, PM Modi said: "If I continue to take names of such Bengalis, we will come to the end of the day, but the names shall continue."

He also spoke about the empowerment of women in the country, saying: "Whether opening bank accounts of 22 crore women under Jan Dhan Yojana or giving easy loan to crores of women under Mudra scheme; be it 'Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao' campaign or the law against triple talaq; whether it is a free check-up facility during pregnancy or a nutrition campaign; whether building toilets in homes or freedom from smoke in kitchens under Swachh Bharat; Whether rights to work in night shift or to increase Maternity leave from 12 weeks to 26 weeks, constant work is being done to empower the nation's femininity."

PM Modi said government is also vigilant about the safety of women. "The laws related to the punishment of rape have been made very strict, there has been a provision of even death penalty for the misdemeanors."

Speaking about the development schemes of the government, PM Modi said under the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana, houses have been built for about 30 lakh poor in Bengal. "About 90 lakh poor women have been given free gas connections under the Ujjwala scheme. Bank accounts of about four crore poor of Bengal have been opened through Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana. Not only this, through the Jal Jeevan Mission Scheme, there was a task to deliver clean water through pipes in about 4 lakh houses of Bengal."

He added, "For Bengal's infrastructure, continuous work is also being done to improve connectivity. The central government of BJP has adopted the mantra of Purvodaya, taking continuous decisions for the development of eastern India. West Bengal has to play an important role in this mission of Purvodaya. I am confident that West Bengal will soon move towards a new direction by becoming the center of the East."