'Insulted' by Mamata Banerjee, artist to quit official panels
Kolkata: Taking Mamata Banerjee's remarks against him as an affront, a leading painter who stood by her side during her campaign to oust the erstwhile Left Front government in West Bengal said he would quit two key panels including the state Fine Arts Board of which he is the chairman.
Days after Banerjee questioned his role in bringing a political change in the state, Samir Aich said he would also put in his papers as the member of a Kolkata Municipal Corporation expert committee. The chief minister attacked the painter, who recently criticised her government on several issues, at a public rally in Canning in South 24 Parganas district earlier this week.
"Samir Aich had walked in a procession for us. I respect him for that. But just because he walked in a procession, he does not become a Trinamool Congress man. He was never in the Trinamool Congress. So why does he claim himself to be a Trinamool man? Please don't do it.
"I know why he is criticising us now. He is now talking at the behest of the CPI-M (Communist Party of India-Marxist) which spearheads the opposition Left Front)," Banerjee said.
Aich said Banerjee's comments "insulted" him.
"I don't want to respond to her comments and tell her how many rallies I participated in to bring the political change. I don't need a certificate from her, as I don't have any intention to seek a job. Yes, I feel insulted. So I have decided to quit the two committees," Aich said.
Aich had been one of the prominent faces among intellectuals to support Banerjee's cause since she led the movements in Singur and Nandigram opposing the then Left Front government's move to acquire farmland for setting up industrial projects in 2006-2007.
He participated in her rallies and protests, and became one of the most vocal critics of the Left Front regime in television debates.
However, he fell out with the Banerjee dispensation after he participated in a candlelight vigil over the suicide of a muslim social activist Aminul Islam, whom police allegedly framed in a false case after he helped a raped minor girl lodge a complaint against a local strongman.
Aich also slammed the government over an attack on CPI-M leader and former minister Abdur Rezzak Mollah by Trinamool activists led by former legislator Arabul Islam.
Aich is the latest among a number of intellectuals distancing themselves from the Trinamool regime since it came to power in the state in 2011.
Educationist Sunanda Sanyal, writers Tilottama Majumdar and Suchitra Bhattacharya -- who had also backed Banerjee during the final years of her fight in unseating the Left Front -- have also been sharply critical of her administration.