Author Award Returns, Another Leaves Post After Bangla Academy Honors WB CM Poetry

Kolkata: Bengali writer Ratna Rashid Banerjee has returned an award she received from the West Bengal Bangla Academy in protest at the body’s recent decision to award a special prize to Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee “for her contribution to the because of literature”.

Bengali media reported that writer and editor Anadiranjan Biswas, a member of the Bengali advisory board of Sahitya Academy, also resigned from his post, expressing his dismay at the decision.

The Bangla Academy Special Award was introduced this year. The president of the academy, Education Minister of Bengal Bratya Basu, said the prize would be awarded once every three years, according to local media.

During a broadcast on Monday May 11 to celebrate Rabindranath Tagore’s birth anniversary, it was announced that Mamata Banerjee will receive the special prize for her 2020 book ‘Kabita Bitan’. The book contains about 900 poems.

“The Bangla Academy has decided to reward those who work tirelessly for the betterment of literature as well as other sectors of society,” Basu said at the event.

Although the Chief Minister was present at the program, the award was presented to Minister Basu, who took it on his behalf.

Mamata Banerjee is a lifelong writer and often reads her poems aloud at public functions and shares them on social media.


In a letter to Minister Basu, Ratna Rashid Banerjee said her 2019 “Annada Shankar Smarak Samman” award became a crown of thorns for her in light of the decision.

Rashid Banerjee has written over 30 books of articles and short stories. She has also done research on popular culture including those of marginalized sections of society and is a recipient of the 2009 Bangla Academy Award.

“As a writer, I feel insulted by the decision to award a literary prize to the CM. It will set a bad precedent. The Academy’s statement praising the relentless literary pursuit of the Honorable Chief Minister is a travesty of the truth,” Rashid Banerjee told the news agency. PTI.

“We admire and respect the CM for their political battle, the massive mandate they got from the people to lead the state for three terms. We voted for her. But I cannot equate her contribution to politics with the claim that she worked for the cause of literature. I am not aware of that,” Rashid Banerjee said.

She said the Chief Minister could have shown maturity in not accepting the award after it was announced by Academy President Basu in his presence.


Biswas told the Bengali Daily Anandabazar that poetry had been insulted on Tagore’s birthday with such a gesture.

“We have kept Rabindranath in our hearts since childhood. His poetry is priceless to me. To give such an award citing poetry on the birthday of such a poet is disrespectful to all poetry,” he said, announcing his decision to leave his post at Sahitya Academy.

Lola R. McClure