|Partha Chatterjee (top); Kabir Suman
Calcutta, June 27: The West Bengal Council of Higher Secondary Education today suspended the sale of a Bengali textbook in which singer and former Trinamul MP Kabir Suman, who has fallen foul of the party, has been praised.
Sources in the state education department and the council said the move followed a verbal instruction from education minister Partha Chatterjee. The minister, who is in Odisha, could not be contacted.
The book, meant for Class XII students, also mentions that Gautam Chattopadhyay, the leader of the 1970s music group Mohiner Ghoraguli, did not have a significant impact on the minds of listeners.
“There was no need to praise Kabir Suman or criticise Gautam Chattopadhyay,” an education department official said.
Higher secondary education council president Mahua Das declined to comment on the order to suspend the sale of the book. “I will not speak on the matter,” she said.
Chattopadhyay and his group are considered by a section as the pioneers of the “modern Bengali song” genre that Suman popularised two decades later.
A member of the syllabus committee, set up during the tenure of Bratya Basu as education minister, said the paragraphs on Suman and Chattopadhyay did not figure in the manuscript sent by the council for approval. The committee had also not specifically recommended the inclusion of the two singers in the book — Bangla Bhasha Sanskriti.
The education department sources said the book could be sold again following a review of some portions.
In the chapter titled Bangla Ganer Baank Badal (The Turning Point of Bengali Songs), a paragraph mentions: “Aadhunik srotader chomok diye Kabir Suman er abirbhhab (The advent of Kabir Siman was spectacular for listeners of Bengali songs).”
It adds: “Tini shobdo choyone aanlen adhunik mejaj.… E chhara ganer sur, taal, chhonde, natun angik byabohar korlen (His choice of words ushered in a modern sensibility. Besides, he gave a new dimension to the tunes, rhythm and beat of modern Bengali songs).”
In another paragraph of the same chapter, it is written about Chattopadhayay: “Mohiner Ghoraguli ganer sroshta Gautam Chattopadhyay srota mone bishesh prabhab phelte parenni (The composer of Mohiner Ghoraguli songs, Gautam Chattopadhyay, failed to have a significant impact on the minds of listeners).”
An official of the higher secondary council said: “We included Suman and Chattopadhyay because of their relevance to the topic — the turning point of Bengali songs.”
The council has its own panel of authors to write textbooks published by it.
A senior council official said minister Chatterjee “instructed that the sale of the book be suspended”. The book was circulated in the market a few days ago. “We have information that already a large number of students has purchased the book. We are yet to decide what to do about it. There are around 8 lakh Class XII students across Bengal,” the official said.
A professor who is a member of the syllabus committee said: “There was no recommendation on including Kabir Suman anywhere in the book. In the manuscript sent to us, there was no mention of Kabir Suman and Gautam Chattopadhyay.”
According to sources, the committee had recommended the names of Rabindranath Tagore, Dwijendralal Roy, Rajanikanta Sen and Salil Chowdhury.
Another syllabus committee member said that if the names of Suman and Chattopadhyay were mentioned, those of Manna Dey, Hemanata Mukhopadhyay, Sandhya Mukhopadhyay and Shyamal Mitra should also have been included.