KOLKATA - Residents in the eastern Indian city of Kolkata are being asked to paint their homes blue and white - the favourite colours of their feisty chief minister Mamata Banerjee.

For those reluctant, the city’s government is offering a lucrative incentive - a 12-month waiver on their property taxes.

Officials insist the move is aimed at making Kolkata, once the capital of British India, look “bright in sunshine” and “lift the spirits of people” rather than appease Banerjee, who is almost always seen in blue and white saris. “We are encouraging property owners to renovate their houses and have them painted in blue and white because it signifies happiness and gives an aesthetic feeling,” city mayor Sovan Chatterjee told AFP.

“We have decided to waive a year’s property tax for residential buildings painted in blue and white,” he said.

Kolkata, a bustling metropolis of 15 million people whose name was officially changed from Calcutta in 2001, started changing colour soon after Banerjee came to power in 2011, vowing to turn it into a world-class city. Her Trinamool Congress party leads the state government of West Bengal, of which Kolkata is the capital. The party also heads the Kolkata Municipal Corporation.  The city’s flyovers and bridges have already changed to blue and white stripes along with many public buildings including police stations. Even its trams and public toilets have not been spared.