A total of 19 photographs of Mamata Banerjee are exhibited by the five tableaus. Apart from the Chief Minister, photographs of other ministers like Commerce and Industry Minister Partha Chatterjee and Urban Development Minister Firhad Hakim have found places on the tableaus of various departments. The tableau of Kolkata Police tops the list as it displays 12 photographs of Mamata Banerjee including two which are more than ten feet tall.
The tableau of the state commerce and industry department carries photographs of the Chief Minister lighting the lamp during the inauguration of the second edition of Bengal Leads, an investment summit, held in Haldia last week.
The tableaus of three departments - Disaster Management, Tourism and Youth Affairs, and that of Kolkata Municipal Corporation (KMC) — however, are the exception. They don’t carry the photographs of the Chief Minister.
Debjit Ghosh, who designed the tableau of the tourism department, said he was not instructed to display the Chief Minister’s photograph. “There was no instruction from the higher ups of the department to display the CM’s photograph in our tableau and this is why we did not use her photograph,” a tourism department official said.
Artists giving final touches to the tableaus, which “highlight the success stories of the Trinamool government”, said it takes anything between Rs 4 to Rs 4.5 lakh to decorate one tableau. The per day rent of the vehicle is somewhere around Rs 7,000. “If the minimum cost of decoration is considered as Rs 4 lakh. It works up to at least Rs 36 lakh for the state exchequer to have spent on the decorate the tableau,” an official who was inspecting the tableau of his department told The Indian Express.
CPM leader and former chief minister, Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee, had recently slammed the Trinamool Congress chief for lavishly flaunting her photographes on government-sponsored billboards. “I have never used my photographs in any government advertisement because money comes to the government coffer from the people and public money should not be used in publicity drive of any political figure,” Bhattacherjee said at a recent public rally.
The CPM has, therefore, reacted strongly against the use of CM’s photographs on the Republic Day tableaus.
Asked if photographs of any minister in the Left regime was displayed in any occasion, former municipal affairs minister and CPM state committee member Ashok Bhattacharjee replied in negative. “Never in our 34-year rule, photograph of any minister was displayed during any government programs because we do not believe in such political culture,” Bhattacherjee said and added that the incumbent Chief Minister “must have given” her consent to use her photograph in tableaus. “She is all in all in the government. Everything is being done on her instruction,” Bhattacherjee said.