'Insulted' by Mamata, artist to quit official panels

Kolkata, Jan 24 (IANS) Taking West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee's remarks as an affront, a leading painter who backed her when she took on the erstwhile Left Front government said he would quit two key panels, including the Fine Arts Board he heads.

Days after Banerjee questioned his role in bringing political change in the state, Samir Aich said he would also put in his papers as 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 South 24 Parganas district this week.

"Samir Aich 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. So why does he claim himself to be a Trinamool man?

"I know why he is criticising us now. He is now talking at the behest of the CPI-M (Communist Party of India-Marxist)," Banerjee said.

Aich said Banerjee's comments were an insult.

"I don't want to respond and tell her how many rallies I participated in to bring (about) 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 intellectuals to support Banerjee's cause since she led the movements in Singur and Nandigram opposing the Left government's move to acquire farmland to set up industrial projects in 2006-07.

He took part in her rallies and protests, and became one of the most vocal critics of the Left regime in television debates.

He fell out with Banerjee after taking part in a candlelight vigil over the suicide of a Muslim activist 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 intellectuals distancing themselves from the Trinamool regime since it took power in 2011.

Educationist Sunanda Sanyal and writers Tilottama Majumdar and Suchitra Bhattacharya -- who also backed Banerjee when she took on the ruling Left Front -- have also spoken against her administration.

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