A day after a man was arrested for asking questions at her rally, West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee came under fire from various quarters — including Press Council of India chairman justice Markendey Katju and the BJP.
On Sunday, Katju called her "dictatorial, intolerant and whimsical" and said she was not fit to be a leader in a democratic country. The BJP said giving answers is the duty of political leaders and they can't run away. The CPM dubbed the arrest as "unfortunate and horrific."
Shiladitya Choudhury was arrested on Saturday and slapped with charges including intimidation, assault and trespass. During Banerjee’s speech at a rally in Midnapore’s Belpahari — 170 km from Kolkata, Choudhury had said, “You are making false promises.” Calling him a Maoist, Banerjee had ordered his arrest.
Katju said the action amounted to "blatant misuse" of state machinery and "flagrant violation" of constitutional and human rights.
"I had earlier given a statement in favour of Mamata Banerjee,” he said. “But now I believe she is totally undeserving to be a political leader in a democratic country like India, since she has no respect for constitutional and civil rights of citizens."
As for the state government officials, he said they should take a lesson from the Nuremburg verdict.
At the Nuremburg trials —conducted after the World War II — Nazi war criminals took the plea that they were only carrying out the orders of their chief, Adolf Hitler, but their plea was rejected and they were hanged. “At the political level, parties can't run away when questions are asked and it is our duty to reply. Taking action on people is inappropriate,” said BJP spokesperson Nirmala Sitaraman.
CPM MP Nilotpal Basu said the arrest amounted to autocracy. "They are using state institutions to act against people," he said. In Midnapore, meanwhile, the shock and indignation was palpable. “He is a good man and had not done anything wrong,” said a neighbour who did not want to be named. “He wanted to highlight a collective problem. We are surprised at the chief minister.”