New Delhi: West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee came under intense attack on Sunday over arrest of a man who asked her a question at a rally with Press Council of India chairman Markendey Katju calling her "totally dictatorial, intolerant, and whimsical" in her behaviour.
The BJP said giving answers is the duty of political leaders and that they can't run away while CPI-M, the arch rival of the Trinamool Congress supremo, dubbed the arrest as "unfortunate and horrific."
In a hard-hitting statement, Katju said Banerjee's action amounted to "blatant misuse" of state machinery and "flagrant violation" of constitutional and human rights.
Katju, who expressed "shock" at the incident, said officials in West Bengal should take a lesson from the Nuremburg verdict.
At the Nuremburg trials, the Nazi war criminals took the plea that orders were orders and they were only carrying out the orders of Adolf Hitler, their superior, but this plea was rejected and they were hanged.
A man identified as Siladitya Chowdhury and who was dubbed as a Maoist by Banerjee at a public meeting at the former Maoist stronghold of Belpahari on August 8 was arrested when he asked her what steps she was taking to help farmers.
Chowdhury had told the chief minister that the farmers were dying and that 'empty promises were not enough'.
The chief minister expressed surprise and dubbed Chowdhury as a Maoist while asking the police to arrest him.
Katju said he has changed his opinion about Banerjee whom he had earlier praised.
"Her action is most undemocratic to say the least," he said, holding that Banerjee is totally undeserving to be a political leader.
"I had earlier given a statement in favour of Mamata 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.
"At the political level political parties can't run away when questions are asked and it is our duty to reply. They have to reply. Taking action on people is inappropriate. Answers will have to be given when people ask," BJP spokesperson Nirmala Sitaraman said.
CPI-M MP Nilotpal Basu said the arrest amounted to autocracy and slammed Banerjee for not being ready to listen to any criticism or question.
"They are using the state institutions to act against people who ask questions," he said, regretting that the West Bengal government isn't in a mood to tolerate even a little criticism.