Kolkata: Why the City of Joy is Feeling Blue

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Kolkata: Why the City of Joy is Feeling Blue

Flyovers and bridges across Kolkata have been painted in shades of blue and white.

Kolkata:  When Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee came to power in West Bengal in 2011, she decided to paint the town blue, literally so.

Flyovers, bridges and fences of public parks across Kolkata were painted in shades of blue and white. The Presidency jail, the city's iconic trams and even its public toilets were not spared.

In October last year, Ms Banerjee moved to her new office in a 14-storey building and promptly got it painted in, what else, white and blue.

But now, the city's municipal corporation has gone a step further. It has announced that those who paint their houses in the chief minister's favourite colours will not have to pay property tax for an entire year.

Kolkata mayor Sovan Chatterjee defended the move, saying, "We are not pressurising people or provoking them. We will urge people to paint their building blue and white. Kolkata is for them. Kolkata is ours and (we should) make it beautiful."

Jagjit Kaur, who got her house painted white and blue earlier this year, says she did so because "Mamata was painting everything in blue and white. I hope we get a tax break now." 

But many believe that the state government's decision borders on the infringement of individual choice.

"If everything is white and blue, it will look very monotonous," says Radhika, a dress designer.

Sougata, a restaurant owner, agrees with her, "Next, they will say wear white and blue uniforms and you will get an income tax discount. This is silly."

But the opposition, which is clearly not amused, has termed Ms Banerjee's latest move as "apartheid".

"Apartheid in a democratic set-up is unthinkable," says former mayor and Communist party of India - Marxist leader Bikash Bhattacharya.

If too many Kolkata residents seize this opportunity to get a tax break, and do get their houses painted in the chief minister's favourite colours, Kolkata may end up feeling a bit too blue.


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