Didi sees ‘reds’ in TV audience, sends police after them

  • HT Correspondent, Hindustan Times, Kolkata
  • Updated: May 20, 2012 00:03 IST

First she called a rape victim a “liar” even before the police probe, then she ordered the arrest of a university professor for forwarding a cartoon lampooning her.

On Friday, West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee went a step further and labeled college students “Maoists” and “CPM cadre” during an interactive TV session. Banerjee walked out of the show after students asked her questions about the controversial incidents during her first year of rule.

The Trinamool Congress chief did not leave it at that. On her directions, a special branch of Kolkata Police asked the channel for details of the students who ‘dared’ to ask the CM uncomfortable questions.

Banerjee first defended the arrest of Jadavpur University professor Ambikesh Mahapatra. “It was not a cartoon. We are talking about decomposed (sic) photos with ‘vanish’ written on me. It was a plot by CPM and Maoists to kill me,” she said.

Barely 20 minutes into the one-hour programme, she suddenly lost her cool.

"They are CPI-M cadres. I am not going to reply. I will reply to questions from common people. You are SFI cadres," she said before storming out of the studio.

Moderator Sagarika Ghose unsuccessfully tried to persuade Banerjee to stay. "We thought for her it was an ideal platform, an opportunity for her to reach out to the young with her position on things," she said.

CNN-IBN, the channel that organised the session, told HT they had been assured by the state government that the matter had been laid to rest.

On Saturday, when HT contacted some of the students who attended the show, all of them said Banerjee could have simply refuted their claims. On being told that the police was doing a background check about them, one of the students said, "It is funny if they start tracking us down merely on the basis of a talk show."

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