For panchayat poll funds, Mamata turns to paintbrush

For her debt-ridden state exchequer she pesters the Centre for funds, but for her party coffers Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee turns to her own artistic skills.

Or, to be more specific, she organises an exhibition of her paintings that fetches pelf from art aficionados.

Mamata today inaugurated one such exhibition at Town Hall in central Kolkata with as many as 221 paintings on display. The show is on till January 18.

The paintings have been priced between Rs 3 lakh and Rs 1 lakh.

"I myself have no money as I neither get pension as a former central minister nor do I take salary as chief minister. I don't steal money to run my party. I can ask for it from anybody and there will be no dearth of people... but I will not do it. We have got the panchayat votes and we need money, so we will use the money from the proceeds for the elections," Mamata said at the event, which was attended by artists Suvaprasanna and Jogen Choudhury, Panchayat Minister Subrata Mukherjee and others.

The chief minister said she uses the sales proceeds from her paintings for both "political and public purposes". Mamata's paintings have been exhibited since 2006.

"So far three of my painting exhibitions have been organised. While the proceeds of my first exhibition went to the Spastics Society of India, the second went to victims of the Nandigram violence. The money earned from the third exhibition organised before the 2011 Assembly polls - Rs 1 crore - was given to the chief minister's relief fund," Mamata said.

She said is was a self-taught painter. "I don't know how to paint, I do it on impulse. And I am a fast painter. I do it in 15 minutes flat, most of them at Writers' Buildings," Mamata said.

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