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Painting is my passion, don't eke out living by selling artwork: Mamata

(Eds: Adding additional quotes) Kolkata, Jan 31 (PTI) In an apparent attack on the BJP, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Thursday said painting was her passion and she does not "eke out a living by selling her art work". The chief minister's reaction comes after BJP national president Amit Shah alleged on Tuesday that Banerjee's paintings were bought by chit fund owners for crores of rupees. In a counter attack, the Trinamool Congress (TMC) supremo, on Wednesday, dared Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Shah to prove the allegation against her. Launching a calendar featuring some of her sketches at the inauguration of International Kolkata Book Fair here, Banerjee said, "A friend told me that some people in Delhi may make adverse comments on the calendar. I said I would send copies to them anyway." The chief minister said her only source of income was the royalty she received from her published books. "I have been a Parliamentarian seven times, but I don't take a single anna of MP's pension. I don't even take MLA allowance. I paint because I am passionate about it, not because I want to make a living out of it. "My only source of income comes from the royalty I get from my published books," she stated. The chief minister also came down heavily on 'jealous people' saying they don't have an idea about Bengal's rich tradition of celebrating all important festivals. "It does not matter to the people of Bengal whatever these jealous people might say. Do they (jealous people) have an idea how from Durga Puja, Christmas to Boi Mela (book fair) every festival has been celebrated enthusiastically for ages by people of Bengal? Do they know Lakshmi and Saraswati pujas are being held in crores of households all over the state?" the chief minister asked. Banerjee said she wants to "foil" the designs of "jealous people" who cannot appreciate Bengal's secular spirit. Seven books of the chief minister, including one on the current political scenario, was published at the fair Thursday, taking the total number of her published works to 87. Talking about the book fair, which entered its 43rd year, Banerjee said the event has no parallel in the world. "The book fair is a ground for people to meet and share thoughts and opinions. It is an integral part of Kolkata's culture," she added. Asserting that printed matter will never cease to attract people across all ages, she said, "Though these days stories and poems are posted on social network sites including Facebook, the very charm of reading literature will never yield place to the virtual text. Book fair unites minds, dispelling ignorance and superstition." The book fair is the place to browse through titles, to physically feel titles, to know about the world, she said. He asked the people to ensure no "mischief maker" spoils the atmosphere of the book fair till the last day. PTI SUS RMS IND RG INDIND