Millennium Post

Writer wants to mend fences with Mamata

Mahasweta Devi may retrace her steps as the president of the Paschimbanga Bangla Akademi and withdraw her resignation if the West Bengal government makes a request, the activist writer told Millennium Post on Thursday.

The irate author put in her papers when she learnt that one of her two recommendations for the Vidyasagar Award was turned down by the state government. The authors recommended for the award by the panel headed by Devi are Prof Shibaji Bandopadhyay, now a faculty member of the Centre for Studies in Social Sciences and the author Shankar Prasad Chakraborty. Bandopadhyay would be the only recipient of this year’s award, it was learnt.

The 86-year-old Magsaysay Award winner said, 'When I chose the two authors, it was a logical decision. I am senior enough to know what I am doing. The panel's decision was unanimous. However, if the state government requests me to withdraw my resignation, I will consider it.' The writer said that her reason for choosing the two authors was that the younger generation of writers should be encouraged.

Interestingly, though, the state government is not in a hurry to make any moves to appease the aggrieved writer. 'We did not have any doubts about Prof Bandopadhyay. The Vidyasagar Award is a prestigious one, and I don’t think that Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee will change her mind on this, though we hold Mahasweta Devi in high esteem,' the artist Suvaprasanna, known to be a close associate of Banerjee, said.

Devi is planning to write a letter to Banerjee, explaining her reasons of quitting. The two shared close ties in the pre-election days, when the writer supported Banerjee in her movement against the Nandigram atrocities perpetrated by the Communist Party of India (Marxist)-led government. 'I still feel that Mamata is making an effort and should be given more time before we can assess her government’s work. Also, I am more worried about whether development is happening in the rural sector and for poor and backward tribes,' she said.
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