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Notice to one and charity for all

But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing

Matthew 6:3 The Bible NIV

Calcutta, Feb. 7: Blame it on Buddha and Surjya.

Chief minister Mamata Banerjee today briefly set aside a cherished principle of giving and voluntarily listed the donations she would make with the proceeds from her paintings.

The disclosure came a day after her party sent a legal notice to Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee for allegedly questioning her honesty and Opposition leader Surjya Kanta Mishra wondered why no one could ask “who bought her paintings and at what price”.

“From the funds raised from the exhibition (at Town Hall last month), I have decided to donate Rs 10 lakh to the governor’s relief fund and Rs 25 lakh to the chief minister’s relief fund. I will give Rs 5 lakh each to our three candidates contesting the by-elections. The rest of the money would go to the Spastics Society,” Mamata said at Writers’ while leaving for Raj Bhavan this afternoon.

The chief minister shared the information with reporters on her own without being asked.

Mamata painstakingly detailed who is getting what but did not disclose the total amount the paintings — priced between Rs 1.5 lakh and Rs 3 lakh apiece — fetched at Town Hall. “This time, sales were a bit down,” she said.

Trinamul insiders later said Mamata had always given money raised from her exhibitions to charitable causes. “She has made donations to the Spastics Society in the past. She also raised money through exhibition for the victims of Nandigram,” a Trinamul vice-president said.

In 2011, over Rs 2 crore was raised from an exhibition that Mamata held at a private gallery on Shakespeare Sarani. “After becoming chief minister, she donated Rs 1 crore to the chief minister’s relief fund. The rest of the money had been used up in meeting election expenses,” a Trinamul minister said.

Painter Suvaprasanna, a member of Mamata’s culture clan, said that out of 224 paintings by Mamata, 150 were on display at Town Hall. “The paintings were priced at Rs 3 lakh, Rs 2 lakh and Rs 1.5 lakh. At her first exhibition, around Rs 11 lakh was earned. Now the amount runs into crores but she doesn’t keep any money for herself. We want to hold an exhibition of her paintings in Delhi,” he said.

At Mamata’s last exhibition titled A Dreamer’s Creation, around 150 of her acrylic canvas art works were on display at Town Hall from January 2 to January 24.

“Mamata is not a trained artist. Her paintings are a personal expression of her emotions. She paints what comes naturally to her. She prefers painting nature, birds and beasts. The structure and form of these paintings attract us. She is original and one can also say she is impulsive,” said painter Jogen Chowdhury, a regular at her cultural events.

An art critic who did not want to be named said that as a painter Mamata does not care about rules but “she has a way with colours” and the “flowers are not bad”.

Late tonight, Trinamul eyes were fixed on the clock, not the canvas. Referring to the legal notice he sent to former chief minister Bhattacharjee, Trinamul leader Mukul Roy told a TV channel: “If we don’t get a reply from him within 48 hours, we will start a case for his deliberate attempt to malign Mamata Banerjee. No one has the right to malign anybody. He must be ready to give a reply.”

Senior advocate and CPM leader Bikash Ranjan Bhattacharyya said: “I am yet to see the legal notice. After going through it, we will discuss it in the party to decide our stand.”