New Delhi: West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee faced severe criticism on Sunday from various quarters after the arrest of a farmer who questioned her publicly.
Former Supreme Court judge and Press Council of India chief Markendey Katju, who had once praised her, on Sunday accused her of being "totally dictatorial, intolerant and whimsical" and even appeared to liken her to Adolf Hitler.
Both the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) also slammed Banerjee.
A villager in West Bengal who had demanded "answers" on promises made by Banerjee was arrested Friday on charges of disrupting a meeting of the CM in a Maoist belt.
Media reports said one Shiladitya Chowdhary of West Midnapore district's Nayagram was arrested for allegedly disrupting a meeting of the Trinamool Congress (TMC) chief at Belpahari area on Wednesday last.
He was sent in judicial custody for ten days by a local court after his arrest on non-bailable sections of Indian Penal Code (IPC).
Mamata on Wednesday addressed a public meeting in Belpahari and had asked people to question her after the speech.
Shiladitya reportedly asked her about the steps she was taking to solve the troubles faced by farmers in the state.
He reportedly said farmers were dying in the state due to lack of money and asked the chief minister to "deliver on her promises."
"What are you doing for farmers? Farmers are dying because they have no money. Empty promises are not enough," he was quoted as saying.
Reports said the farmer was branded a Maoist by the aggravated chief minister.
The police had nabbed Shiladitya immediately and later let him go after some questioning. But two days later he was arrested again.
Issuing a press release on Sunday Katju said, "In my opinion this amounts 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 such actions by the West Bengal Chief Minister have changed his opinion about her.
"I 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," Katju said.
He further said that the state administration should be cautious before carrying out Banerjee's orders.
"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.
Slamming Banerjee for role in the farnmer's arrest, the BJP said that politicians should learn to answer such questions at public meetings.
Meanwhile, the CPI-M, which was ousted by Banerjee's party in elections last year, dubbed the arrest as "unfortunate and horrific".