Irk West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee and you risk being kicked out of the ministry or sent to prison. Former railway minister Dinesh Trivedi and Jadavpur University professor Ambikesh Mahapatra will surely agree to that.
A file photograph of JU professor Ambikesh Mahapatra, arrested for circulating Mamata's cartoon. Courtesy: Facebook/HT
After Dinesh Trivedi was 'forced' to resign as railway minister post his budget speech, the West Bengal CM threw yet another googly with the arrest of the professor on Thursday which left people baffled and gave more ammunition to her critics.
His crime: e-mailing a cartoon that apparently show chief minister Mamata Banerjee, former railway minister Dinesh Trivedi and railway minister Mukul Roy in poor light.
With increasing incidents showing her intolerance to crticism and dissent, HT.com on Friday asked its readers -- 'Is Mamata Banerjee still as popular as she was a year ago?'
Till 10.15 pm on Friday (April 13), 1349 responses were registered on the poll. Readers were asked to vote among three options: 1. She is still popular, 2. Her popularity has dipped, 3. Can't say.
Eighty-seven per cent of total respondents voted for the option -- 'Her popularity has dipped' -- making it clear that all the recent drama is certainly not helping Banerjee's public image.
Rest 11% still believe that she is quite popular while 2% could not make their decision.
Police arrested Ambikesh Mahapatra, a professor of chemistry of Jadavpur University for 17 years and his neighbour Subrata Sengupta and slapped sections of IPC and IT Act against them. Both were granted bail on a personal bond of Rs 500 each by the Alipore court.
Standing by her decision, Mamata Banerjee on Friday said "If one commits an offence, he has to face arrest. Conspiracies won't be tolerated."
The cartoon in question has been doing the rounds in West Bengal after Mamata forced Trivedi out of the rail ministry and put Roy in his place. Apparently, the cartoon is a caricature of Satyajit Ray's detective masterpiece on celluloid Sonar Kella.
The 'cartoon' that led to JU professor's arrest. From top to bottom: 1. Mamata Banerjee points to Indian Railways' logo and tells Mukul Roy: See Mukul, the Golden Fortress; 2. Mukul Roy points to former railway minister Dinesh Trivedi and exclaims: That's an evil man!!!; 3. Mamata says: Evil man, vanish!
Shortly after this drama was revealed in public, reactions followed at the speed of a bullet. Here's what people were saying on micro blogging site Twitter:
@calamur: if mamata banerjee doesn't want cartoons of her circulating, maybe she needs to stop behaving like one or get out of public life
@rahulpandita: Mamata Banerjee should do a cameo in "Hitler Didi."
@Sum_IH: Why this Kolaveri on a cartoon banned by Mamata di? You must read her name carefully: BANerjee!
@doctoratlarge: Mamata Banerjee supports rapists and arrests cartoonists - that's poribortan for you
@shaibalgiri: Mamata Banerjee, get well soon !!! ....Munnabhai flowers from Germany :)
If this was not all, CPI(M), BJP and Congress joined the chorus flay the Mamata Banerjee government for setting a "dangerous trend of silencing cartoonists" by arresting them for criticising political leaders.
The arrest has already triggered a rising tide of protest in the university campus, with a section of the professor's colleagues and students defending his action as a part of his right to express his views.
Over the past few weeks a section of Kolkata's intellectuals who campaigned for Mamata before the 2011 assembly polls, have started protesting against what they call dictatorial tendencies of her government.