Katju criticises Mamata; she hits back



Kolkata: Press Council of India Chairman Markandey Katju on Thursday slammed Mamata Banerjee for being "increasingly intolerant and whimsical" and asked her to mend her ways but the West Bengal Chief Minister hit back by saying her government would not function at anyone's diktat.

"From what I could gather during my visits to Kolkata, your ministers and bureaucrats are afraid to speak out their minds fearlessly before you and are terrorised by your unpredictable and whimsical behaviour. ... This is a very unhealthy state of affairs and you will not be able to remain as Chief Minister for long unless you change your ways and become more tolerant," Katju said in a letter to Banerjee which was posted in his blog.

Describing himself as her well wisher, the former Supreme Court judge pointed out that he had praised her at one time.

"But of late you seem to have become increasingly intolerant and whimsical, which is only going to land you in big trouble. It is still not too late for you if you listen to my advice and change your ways," he said.

Asked to comment on Katju's letter, Banerjee told reporters here that "I have not received any letter. This (state) government will not function at anyone's diktat. If someone thinks that he will make us work by force and threat, it will not be done."

The 'government is for the people, by the people and of the people', she said adding "my government will function according to convention and constitution. My government is for democracy and will be for democracy. We even took action against our own partymen."

Katju also reminded Banerjee of Kautilya's words in Arthashastra that a successful ruler was one who appointed good advisers and listened to their advice and wrote "your advisers should feel free to express their opinions fearlessly.

Asking Banerjee to take a cue from her Maharashtra counterpart, he requested her to suspend the police officers who had ordered and implemented the arrest of Prof Ambikesh Mahapatra of Jadavpur University and the West Midnapore farmer.

Mahapatra was arrested in April for circulating a cartoon spoofing the chief minister, drawing on some dialogues from Satyajit Ray's film while Siladitya was dubbed a Maoist by Banerjee and had him arrested after he asked her a question during a rally in August.

"You should immediately withdraw the cases against them and apologise to them," Katju said adding Banerjee should also immediately restore to her former position Damayanti Sen who was transferred from the post of Joint Commissioner of Police (crime) following the Park Street rape case which she cracked.

He also advised her to apologise to all those against whom action was taken for voicing opinions against her.

"We are all human beings and we all make mistakes but a gentleman is one who realises his mistake and apologises. You should also apologise to Tanya Bharadwaj whom you insulted on the CNN IBN show," he wrote referring to the student who questioned the chief minister.

PTI