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Author Returns Award After Paschimbanga Bangla Academy Offers Literary Award To CM Mamata Banerjee

A Bengali writer and folk culture researcher withdrew an award from the Paschimbanga Bangla Academy on Tuesday in protest of the academy’s decision to offer Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee a special award for her service to the cause of literature.

Ratna Rashid Banerjee has returned the Academy’s ‘Annada Shankar Smarak Samman,’ which she received in 2019.

Banerjee said in a letter to Academy Chairman Bratya Basu, who is also the education minister, that the honour has become a “crown of thorns” for her as a result of the Academy’s decision to confer a new literary prize on the CM on Rabindranath Tagore’s birth anniversary.

“I told them in the letter of my choice to return the award with immediate effect.”

“As a writer, I am offended by the decision to offer the CM a literary award. It will create a negative precedent. “The Academy’s statement hailing the honourable chief minister’s ardent literary pursuit is a distortion of truth,” Rashid Banerjee said.

The prize, which was instituted this year, was presented to the chief minister for his book, ‘Kabita Bitan,’ a compilation of over 900 poems, at a state government-sponsored event commemorating Tagore’s birth anniversary on Monday. The award was given to Basu on behalf of the CM, who was present at the event.

“We applaud and respect the Chief Minister for her political struggle and the tremendous mandate she received from the people to run the state for three times. We had cast our votes for her. However, I cannot reconcile her political contributions with her claim to have laboured for the cause of literature. Rashid Banerjee stated, “I am not aware of.”

The chief minister might have showed maturity by declining the award when it was announced in her presence by Academy Chairman Bratya Basu, according to the author, who has written over 30 books of articles and short tales.

She has also conducted studies on folk culture, particularly that of marginalised groups in society.

On Monday, Basu remarked, “The Bangla Academy has decided to award people who strive persistently for the advancement of literature as well as other sectors of society.”

At the 2020 International Kolkata Book Fair, the CM’s book, ‘Kabita Bitan,’ was released.

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