KOLKATA: Stoking controversy once again, a belligerent Mamata Banerjee emphatically said that she would tell common “manush” what to read in future.
At a time when the State Library Department has issued a circular to the public libraries permitting only chosen dailies, Mamata’s statement has stirred a hornet’s nest.
“I have not yet said what the people should read. But this has gone to the stage of being a conspiracy now. So in future, I will tell people what to read,” said the West Bengal Chief Minister.
As Mamata refused to placate the situation, the Opposition slammed the undemocratic decision.
“This was bound to happen. She (Mamata Banerjee) was inducted into politics during Emergency. Her joining politics in her prime youth during Emergency shows that she doesn’t believe in democracy… Now, even journalists and newspaper offices are being targeted. The mask of ‘Ma, Mati, Manush’ is coming off,” said CPM Central Committee member Mohd Salim.
The State Library Services Department had issued a circular on March 14 to almost 2,500 libraries barring purchase of “papers published or purported to be published by a political party”. The circular had stated, “It is felt that the newspapers/dailies as named in the table will besides promoting language, particularly among the rural masses, significantly contribute to the development and spread of free thinking among the members.”Newspapers such as The Telegraph, Ananda Bazar Patrika and Hindustan Times continued to reel under the ban in the state-run and state-aided libraries.
As many as 13 newspapers, including The Times of India and Aajkal, have been allowed. At least four dailies that have made the Didi’s cut have editors or senior journalists elected to the Rajya Sabha through TMC nominations and are deemed to be close to the ruling party.
Mamata said that the move was “a small affair of a small department (Library Services)”.
“Its budget is only `19 crore. From this, books and newspapers have to be bought. Therefore we have to pick and choose. We cannot buy 200 newspapers. We will promote small newspapers,” Mamata further said.
The TMC-led government’s latest move has bewildered and shocked the intelligentsia with they calling the decision a mark of “fascism”.