Markandey Katju, the chairman of the Press Council of India, used the terms “intolerant and whimsical” to describe Mamata Banerjee, the chief minister of West Bengal and issued a of warning that if she did not mend her ways soon she would have to step down.
In a letter addressed directly to her, Katju insisted she make apology to everyone who had become a victim of her administration. He asked her to take action immediately against the policemen who had arrested farmer Shiladitya Chowdhury and Ambikesh Mahapatra, a professor at Jadavpur University. While Chowdhury was charged for raising questions regarding her policies, Mahapatra was placed under arrest when he circulated a caricature of the chief minister.
The ex-Supreme Court justice added that Damayanti Sen, the former police joint commissioner, should be restored to her previous position, from which she had been removed back in February for cracking a rape case.
The chairman of the PCI opined that Banerjee needs to follow the example of Prithviraj Chavan, the Chief Minister of Maharashtra, who issued suspension orders for the police offers accountable for the arrest of a Mumbai teenager who voiced her strong opinion on Facebook against the Mumbai shutdown on the demise of former Shiv Sena leader, Bal Thackeray.
In the letter, Katju accused Banerjee of misusing her power to victimize Damayanti Sen who, according to him, was an honest officer of the law. He pointed out that the minister should not only apologize to Sen, but also to Tanya Bhardwaj, a young college-goer who drew the ire of Mamata Banerjee when she questioned her policies on a national CNN-IBN show.
Katju said that even Mamata Banerjee’s own bureaucrats and ministers are afraid to express themselves clearly before her since they are intimidated by her whimsical nature. Calling her ways “very unhealthy”, he implied that she would not remain in power for very long unless she made efforts to change and become a lot more tolerant.
On her part, Banerjee claimed that she had not received any letter from Katju. When prompted by media spokespersons about the letter, she stated that she did not wish to comment.
Both Congress and CPI-M voiced their opinions in favour of Katju and slammed the Chief Minister for her “dictatorial ways”. Surya Kanta Mishra, the Leader of Opposition in the state assembly and CPI-M champion and Adir Ranjan Chowdury, a leader of Congress as well as junior railways minister, both criticized Banerjee heavily.