HindustanTimes Thu,25 Dec 2014

AFA director steps down over internal squabble

Snigdhendu Bhattacharya, Hindustan Times  Kolkata, June 20, 2013
First Published: 09:41 IST(20/6/2013) | Last Updated: 09:45 IST(20/6/2013)

Director of Academy of Fine Arts (AFA) Goutam Basu resigned from his post following constant bickering between the two factions of the academy’s executive committee and their confrontation with the board of trustees of the famed institute. “The director resigned in June and wanted to be released by June 15.


AFA authorities told him that it was impossible to release him by June 15 and thus he agreed to serve till June 30,” a source in AFA told HT. In his resignation letter, however, Basu has cited health reasons.

The source added that both the warring factions of the AFA executive committee had tried to persuade him to withdraw the resignation but in vain. Earlier, too, Basu had wished to resign, but committee members could convince him to withdraw it that time. When contacted by HT, Basu refused to comment.

However, both the warring camps admitted to the resignation. “He has submitted resignation letter citing health reasons. We had requested him to see whether he could continue but he insisted on leaving as his health condition would not permit him,” Bulbul Roy, joint secretary of the executive committee, said. The letter would be placed before the executive committee this week.

Its museum boasts of priceless works by the likes of Rabindranth Tagore, Abanindranath Tagore, Gaganendranath Tagore, Jamini Roy, Binod Behari Mukhopadhyay, Ramkinder Baij and MF Husain, as well as Mughal miniatures and Company era paintings.

There has been utter confusion in AFA since 2004 when the last annual general meeting (AGM) was held. Since then the heritage art and culture institute, established by Lady Ranoo Mookerjea in 1933, has seen no election.

If the AGM is not conducted, AFA might lose Rs. 5 crore central grant. Sensing this danger, the board of trustees had approached the high court seeking its intervention in getting the AGM conducted. But it has failed to reap any fruit till date.

“Considering AFA’s prestigious background and rich collections, the Union culture ministry decided to grant fund in ‘A’ category, which is generally reserved for government museums. It has already sent AFA an amount for preparing the detailed project report (DPR),” a source in the AFA executive committee said.

However, AFA may lose the fund if it fails to conduct the AGM on time. Without the AGM, the budgets for the years since 2004 would not be passed, which is a prerequisite for receiving the grant. Another mandatory field is renewal of the society registration, which, too, cannot be done without conducting the AGM.

“In these hours of turmoil, the director had played crucial role in getting the audit reports prepared as well as pursuing the central fund, preparing the DPR and making the museum inventory. AFA would surely suffer from his resignation,” a person closely associated with AFA said.

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