Bengali author Ratna Rashid Banerjee on Tuesday returned an award given to her by the Bangla Academy after it honoured West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee for her contribution to literature, PTI reported.
The author said that the academy’s decision to award the chief minister on Monday had set a “bad precedent”.
Ratna Rashid Banerjee was given the Annada Shankar Smarak Samman in 2019. She has written over 30 books.
The award has become a “crown of thorns”, she said in a letter to academy chairperson Bratya Basu. Basu is also the West Bengal education minister.
“As a writer, I feel humiliated by the move of conferring a literary award to the chief minister,” Ratna Rashid Banerjee told ANI. “It will set a bad precedent. [The] statement of the academy, praising the relentless efforts of the chief minister in the field of literature is a mockery of the truth.”
Mamata Banerjee received the award for her book, Kabita Bitan, released at the International Kolkata Book Fair in 2020. It is a collection of over 900 poems.
“We admire and respect the chief minister for her political battle, the massive mandate she got from people to rule the state for three terms,” she told PTI. “We had 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.”
The chief minister could have shown maturity by not accepting the award, Ratna Rashid Banerjee said.
On Monday, Basu claimed that the Bangla academy is rewarding those who are “working tirelessly for the betterment of literature as well as other sectors of society”.