Kolkata: The outspoken Mamata Banerjee is courting controversy again, this time likening her critics to "barking dogs." At an official function.
What caused Ms Banerjee to flare up was the mention of a letter that Press Council of India chairman Markandey Katju wrote her, suggesting she would lose power if she did not change. The letter said she was "intolerant and whimsical". The West Bengal Chief Minister denied having received the letter, but said, "I cannot comment on any particular person. I am only concerned about this government and whether it is working legally or not, a government which is very humane. It is not a demonic govt. The govt will not function according some people's wishes or control."
Opposition parties have slammed her for the comment. "Raja chaley bajar, kutta bhowkay hajar - that means all of us. Not only Opposition. Whether it is media, or Justice Katju or some common villagers, anybody who criticises the government. The language she has used, I have no language to condemn. I have no language to register my protest," CPM leader SK Mishra said.
Justice Katju had written a letter to the West Bengal Chief Minister seeking action against policemen who arrested Jadavpur University professor Ambikesh Mahapatra and farmer Shiladitya Chowdhury, the first for circulating a cartoon of the Chief Minister and the second for questioning her policies.
The former Supreme Court judge also said that former Joint Commissioner of Police Damayanti Sen be restored to her earlier office, from which she was removed after she cracked a rape case on Park Street.
"We all make mistakes but a gentleman is one who realises his mistake and apologises. I request you to act against the policemen who ordered and implemented the arrest of Mahapatra and Chowdhury, you should immediately withdraw the cases against them and apologise to them," Justice Katju said in his letter.
Justice Katju also said that Ms Banerjee's ministers and bureaucrats "are afraid to speak out their minds fearlessly before you, and are terrorised by your unpredictable and whimsical behaviour".
Stating that her ways were "very unhealthy", he said Ms Banerjee "will not be able to remain Chief Minister for long unless she changed her ways and became more tolerant. It is still not too late if you listen to my advice and change your ways. I had praised you at one time. But of late you seem to have become increasingly intolerant and whimsical."
Speaking at an official function in Kolkata on Thursday, Ms Banerjee said she has not received any such letter but went on to slam those critical of her, including the media.
"I know some people are doing bad name against of this government, negative campaigning they are doing because they have vested interest. Let them do. We don't care. Raja chaley bajar to kutta bhowkay hajar, karney do. Mujhey koi jarurat nahi hai koi dhyan deney kay liye. Kaun kya kaam kartey hai, who sabko pato hai. Aur negative publicity ko positive may lay ayenge, kaam kartey kartey. Agar hamko kaam karney ka mouka hai aur kaam karney ka ichcha hai, then I don't care anybody. In my life, I have fought enough (When the king goes to the market, dogs bark, let them do it. I don't need to pay attention to them. Everyone knows who does what work. We will turn all the negative publicity into positive, we will keep on working. If we really want to work, then I don't care anybody. In my life, I have fought enough)," she said.