Taslima blasts literature award for Mamata: 'Kolkata's writers, artists are sold out'
Exiled Bangladeshi author Taslima Nasreen has criticised the choice of Paschimbanga Bangla Academy to confer West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee a literature award and alleged that "Kolkata's writers, artists and intellectuals are all sold out."
"Kolkata's Bangla Academy has given CM Mamata Banerjee a literature award. Kolkata Art Academy will give her a prize for the best artist. Kolkata's writers, artists and intellectuals are all sold out. Their dignity, honesty and personality are gone for a bit of money and power," Taslima said in a Twitter post.
The award, introduced by the West Bengal government this year, was announced for Mamata's book, 'Kabita Bitan' – a collection of over 900 poems, at a function organised by the government to celebrate the birth anniversary of Tagore on Monday.
Though Mamata was present at the event, she did not accept it personally and instead the award was handed over to Bratya Basu, who is West Bengal's Education Minister and Chairman of Paschimbanga Bangla Academy, on her behalf, our New Delhi correspondent reports.
Writer and Academy member Subodh Sarkar has disapproved of the social media storm triggered by the choice of Mamata for the award and said nobody is talking about the book for which she was given the honour.
A writer and folk culture researcher on Tuesday returned an award given to her by the Paschimbanga Bangla Academy to protest against its decision to confer the award on Mamata Banerjee.
Ratna Rashid Banerjee returned the 'Annada Shankar Smarak Samman' with which she was honoured by the Academy in 2019.
In a letter to the Academy Chairman Bratya Basu, Ratna Rashid Banerjee said the award has become a "crown of thorns" for her in the wake of the Academy's decision to confer a new literary award to Mamata on the birth anniversary of Rabindranath Tagore.
"In the letter, I have informed them about my decision to return the award with immediate effect.
"As a writer, I feel insulted by the move to give a literary award to the CM. It will set a bad precedent. The statement of the Academy praising the relentless literary pursuit of the honourable chief minister is a travesty of truth," Rashid Banerjee told PTI.
Ratna Rashid said, "We admire and respect the CM for her political battle, the massive mandate she got from people to rule the state for three terms. We had voted for her. But I cannot equate her contribution to politics with the claim that she worked for the cause of literature."
According to media reports in Kolkata, Anadiranjan Biswas, a member of the advisory council of Bangla Academy, has resigned.