Controversies plague Buddha

The EC directive came in the wake of the opposition Trinamool Congress’ complaint in the matter. Controversies appeared to be not leaving West Bengal chief minister Buddhadev Bhattacherjee ahead of the  assembly polls. Further adding to the chief minister’s woes have been a plethora of protests from various quarters in the wake of alleged gagging of a play — Bengali translation of George Orwell’s Animal Farm. A beleaguered Bhattacharjee chose to distance himself from the controversy.

On Monday, police stopped staging of the Bengali translation of Orwell’s novel that is a severe indictment of the Communist rule during Stalin regime in the erstwhile USSR, following a complaint by former CPI(M) MP Roopchand Pal.

It triggered protests from the intelligentsia including those closed to the chief minister. Theatre personality Saoli Mitra, daughter of eminent thespian Shambhu Mitra and theatre director Arpita Ghosh who produced the play, were planning to move the poll panel to seek its view that whether the play was violative of the model code of conduct.

The cancellation order of the Hooghly district magistrate reached the venue at the last moment even as the audience started trickling in. The magistrate who issued the stop-the-play order, claimed that the organisers did not take the mandatory police permission to stage the show.

Following widespread protests against the move Bhattacharjee in a statement here said: “I feel it was wrong to have the play stopped. Since 1977, the Left Front government has followed a policy of allowing theatre and other cultural activity whatever be their political comment.”  

The embarrassment for Bhattacherjee did not end there. The commission has directed finance secretary C M Bachhwat to submit an undertaking to the EC, assuring that files on crucial policy matters signed by Dasgupta after the model code had come into force, would not be executed.

The finance minister bypassed Bachhawat and got the files signed by special secretaries after the finance secretary refused to sign them.

The model code became effective from 6 pm on March 1 after the announcement of six-phases polls dates by the EC. Dasgupta was reportedly found signing files in his chamber late on that night, fuelling a furore in his department. Opposition Trinamool Congress later on lodged a complaint with the Commission which issued the directive on Wednesday.

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