Friday 27 May 2022
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Author irked by award to Mamata returns hers to Bengal govt

Previously awarded author Ratna Rashid Banerjee has taken umbrage at the decision of the Bangla Academy managed by the West Bengal government to honour CM Mamata Banerjee

Incensed by the decline in the standard of the Bangla Academy that recently gave a special award to West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, author and researcher Ratna Rashid Banerjee has returned the Annadashankar Memorial Award she had received in 2019. Ratna had received the Bangla Academy Award in 2009 too, but she is returning only the commemorative honour of 2019.

In a related development, author and editor Anadiranjan Biswas has resigned from the Bangla Advisory Council of Sahitya Akademi for the same reason. In a statement explaining his decision, Anadi said he was “upset” by the way the poem was disrespected on the day of Rabindranath Tagore’s birth anniversary in Kolkata.

On Monday afternoon, Minister of for and president of the West Bengal Bangla Academy Bratya Basu had announced a special award from the official platform for the 25 Baishakh — the birth anniversary of Tagore as per the Bangla calendar — celebrations. He said the award would be given to Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee this year for her views on the best writers. Basu said that the award would be given every three years.

Although the chief minister was on the stage at the time of the announcement, it was the president of Bangla Academy who was seen accepting the award on her behalf. Ever since, the chief minister has been reduced to a butt of jokes on social media while actress Sreelekha Mitra mocked her by reading out two limericks — “Epang opang jhapang” and “Hamba” — in a self-made as a satire to suggest Chief Minister Banerjee’s literary genius was a joke.

Last afternoon, Ratna and Anadi both protested against the award committee’s decision to honour the chief minister.

Ratna said yesterday that people must protest against the way the Bangla Academy had announced the award. “She (the chief minister) is a respectable person,” Ratna said, “she won by the virtue of votes from all of us and became the chief minister. I expect a mature decision from her. The book (Kabita Bitan for which Mamata Banerjee has been awarded) must have a certain standard. Even if the academy decides to honour her, why would she accept the award?”

Anadiranjan Biswas and Ratna Rashid Banerjee

Meanwhile, people on social media platforms are also having a laugh by caricaturing Mamata Banerjee’s Twitter résumé where they have claimed she is an author, singer, magician, beautician, medico, engineer, lawyer, professor, athlete, actor, her nephew and West Bengal Minister Abhishek Banerjee’s aunt and what not!

Mamata Banerjee’s actual Twitter profile looks like the following:

Mamata Banerjee was infamously found to have lied about her formal while contesting an election against CPM’s Malini Bhattacharya. Apparently to make a point to the voters that she was as academically qualified as her opponent in the 1984 Lok Sabha election, the then undivided Congress (Indira) candidate got walls of the Jadavpur constituency plastered with the honorific “Dr” preceding her name. When the communists questioned where she had acquired her PhD from, she said it was the “University of East Georgia”. No university by that name existed, the media found out.

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