West Bengal Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee felt it was “improper” of the Hooghly district administration to have disallowed the staging of a Bengali play based on George Orwell's novel “Animal Farm” at Bansberia on Monday on the grounds that it allegedly came under the purview of the model code of conduct.
In a statement issued here on Tuesday, Mr. Bhattacharjee said there were no restrictions in the State to the staging of any kind of play.
“It is not the policy of the Left Front government to disallow plays or any other cultural programmes, irrespective of the political views they may express. The State government is pursuing this line since 1977 [when the Left Front first came to power]. Not allowing the staging of the play in Hooghly was, I feel, improper.”
The move by the local authorities disallowing the staging of the play “Pashu Khamar” came in the wake of a complaint to the local authorities by the former CPI(M) MP, Rupchand Pal, that the staging of the play had political designs.
Director Arpita Ghosh and Shaoli Mitra, co-founder of the drama group which produced it, both of whom were to act in the play, were strongly critical of it being disallowed when it was all set to be staged, though they claimed that it was not the first time such pressure was put on them because of the play.
Both the theatre personalities were considered close to the Trinamool Congress, but they dismissed any suggestion of belonging to the party.
“Under which code of conduct of the Election Commission could such a step be taken,” asked Ms. Ghosh.
She told The Hindu that the matter would be taken up with the State's Chief Electoral Officer.