In the midst of intense criticism and negative publicity over several recent decisions, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has decided to fight back with plans to launch her own television channel and newspaper.
The proposed move is aimed at disseminating what's being described as "correct information" and publicise the state government's activities and achievements. "No matter how many good deeds they do are not broadcast in the right way, instead are broadcast negatively. You work the whole day, then there is no outcome of that, this I know. That is why I think we have to do something good ourselves and that is why we have taken the decision to show the work done in West Bengal...We need our own news channel and paper to inform the people," the Chief Minister told a convention in Kolkata today.
The new plan comes closely on the heels of Ms Banerjee attacking sections of the media earlier this week for painting a negative picture of her government's performance. "You do not see positively. You see negatively. If you see positively, the performance of the government is 100 out of 100," Ms Banerjee had said.
The remarks seemed to have been triggered by extensive media coverage of the public outcry sparked by the recent arrests of a molecular biologist and a professor in the state. The former, Partho Sarothi Ray, spent 11 days in jail for his alleged role in protests against slum evictions in Kolkata. The latter, Ambikesh Mahapatra, a professor of chemistry at the renowned Jadavpur University, was also arrested earlier last week for forwarding a controversial cartoon featuring the of Chief Minister. The cartoon shows Ms Banerjee and new Railway Minister Mukul Roy planning to get rid of party MP and Mr Roy's predecessor, Dinesh Trivedi. The professor was charged with hurting a women's modesty, defamation and causing offence using a computer. He was released on bail after spending a night in jail.
But these incidents are only among a string of recent instances wherein Ms Banerjee drew a lot of flak. These include enforcing a read list in state-owned public libraries that excluded prominent English dailies and proposing to redesign school syllabi with reduced emphasis on Marx and Engels.
The decisions were widely criticised with the civil society even dubbing her clampdown on newspapers as "fascist".