Kolkata Book Fair: Time to browse and bond

The 35th Kolkata Book Fair will draw to a close on Sunday after 10 days of joy and excitement for book-lovers of Kolkata and West Bengal. In its 35th edition, the Book Fair had the USA as the theme country, ironically the first time in the 34 years of the Left Front government.

The fair which the government claims is an attempt to expand the horizons of knowledge became a hit from the first day, when a Bengali author raised the issue of killings at Netai village in West Midnapore in presence of the chief minister and hit the headlines in all regional dailies.

This year the fair has a higher tinge of politics than its earlier editions. Various parties like every year have put up their stalls to distribute political literature. But this year, with the Assembly elections in sight, both the government and Opposition claims they have sold record number of copies this time. Visit the stalls of "Jago Bangla" or "Ganasakti" the mouthpieces of Trinamool Congress and CPM respectively, and you can get a new reprinted edition of a book by Mamata Banerjee or the writings of Marx and Engels.

The Book Fair has increasingly become a platform by activists to spread their message. Various seminars and meets were held on issues like disability to the Right to Information Act, child rights groups and various other organisations. The fair with a huge crowd offers a very good platform to reach to people, connect with them, inform them and involve them.

On an average day, the footfalls at the Milan Mela Fair ground is over 1lakh sometimes even up to 1.5 lakh. This, despite the fair being held at the a ground next to Eastern Metropolitan Bypass where traffic is in mess because of the ongoing Metro extension services. This year, 502 stalls have been set up at the ground with various kinds of literature and books printed in more than a dozen countries.

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