Accusing Mamata Banerjee of being "totally dictatorial, intolerant and whimsical", Press Council of India chief Markandey Katju, who had once praised her, today unleashed stinging criticism of the West Bengal Chief Minister over the arrest of a man who asked her a question during a rally.
Mr Katju said the arrest of Siladitya Chowdhury, who was dubbed as a Maoist by Ms Banerjee at a rally after he asked what steps she was taking to help farmers, amounted to "blatant misuse" of state machinery and "flagrant violation" of constitutional and human rights
"Her action is most undemocratic to say the least," he said in a statement today, holding that she is totally undeserving to be a political leader in a democratic country.
The former Supreme Court judge cautioned the administrative and police authorities there against taking her "illegal orders", warning that they could suffer the same fate as Nazi criminals did for acting on Hitler's directions.
"At the Nuremburg Trials the Nazi war criminals took the plea that orders were orders and they were only carrying out the orders of Hitler, their superior, but this plea was rejected and they were hanged. The West Bengal officials should take a lesson from the Nuremburg verdict if they do not wish to suffer a similar fate," he said.
"I had earlier given a statement in favour of Ms Banerjee because I thought one should see good points in a person's personality also.
"But now I have changed my opinion and believe that 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 and is totally dictatorial, intolerant, and whimsical in her behaviour," he said.
Expressing his "shock" over the arrest of the man, Mr Katju said she has behaved in a high handed and dictatorial manner earlier too.
She had branded a college student Taniya Bharadwaj during a TV programme as a Maoist merely because she had asked an innocuous question. She had also got one Jadavpur University Professor arrested, Mr Katju said.
The BJP also slammed Ms Banerjee for her action. The party said politicians should learn to answer such questions at public meetings.
The farmer, Mr Chowdhury, was let off after initial questioning on Wednesday. But he was again arrested from his home on Friday night for allegedly trying to disrupt the Chief Minister's meeting.