CM poem at Mati Utsav, foe fumes

Panagarh, Feb. 9: A poem by Mamata Banerjee titled Mati, on display at various places of the Mati Utsav venue and sometimes sharing space with works of Tagore, has evoked criticism from the CPM.

The party accused the chief minister of "using" a government programme to promote her poem. The CPM also criticised the move to place the poem alongside Tagore's works.

"Is Mamata Banerjee so renowned and good a poet that her works can share space with Tagore's? And how can a government programme be used to promote her poem? She is showcasing her poems at the cost of the common people," said Amal Haldar, the secretary of the CPM in Burdwan, where the event is being held.

"At the Calcutta Book Fair, books of poems and stories by the chief minister are being sold. Her poem has been put up at Mati Utsav so that those books get a good response at the Book Fair. This is ridiculous," he added.

Haldar said former chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee too writes poems, novels and dramas but has never promoted them at any government programme.

The comments drew a sharp response from Trinamul. Agriculture minister Malay Ghatak, whose department is organising Mati Utsav, said: "Such a festival involving farmers can only be conceived by Mamata Banerjee. But the CPM is finding fault. She loves our soil and farmers. It is but natural that her poems will be displayed at Mati Utsav," Ghatak said.

Mahasweta visit

Writer-activist Mahasweta Devi, who had fallen out with Mamata and called her government "fascist" in 2011, shared the stage with the chief minister at the inauguration of Mati Utsav.

"This government is only 20 months old. The amount of work it has done was not done by any previous government," Mahasweta said today.

Mamata painted pictures alongside Jogen Chowdhury and Suvaprasanna at the festival.