Sir — It is incredible that the chief minister of a state as culturally advanced and politically aware as West Bengal should become so tyrannical in such a short span of time (“Wrong signal”, Feb 19). Mamata Banerjee did not show the slightest sympathy for some of the victims of sexual abuse in her state. Instead, she dubbed these crimes as “sajano ghatana”. Not only this, she also penalized Damayanti Sen — the police officer who had dared to contradict her by making a headway in the Park Street rape case — by means of a transfer.
More recently, she has blamed the rising number of infant deaths in state-run hospitals on the Left Front’s misrule instead of taking any concrete step to solve the problem. She has harassed a professor for forwarding a cartoon, branded a common farmer and a young college girl ‘Maoists’ for daring to question her, sacked a police commissioner for doing his job right, and tried to protect the culprits — supporters of her party — who killed a policeman in broad daylight.
History is replete with examples of such despotic leaders, who were elected by the masses and on whom the people had great faith at first. But ultimately, each one of them developed a disdain for the democratic process, by means of which they had achieved power in the first place. Each left behind destruction and anarchy when they finally stepped down.
Subrata Datta, Calcutta
Sir — The state government is in a mess, thanks to our hot-headed, capricious chief minister. It seems that Mamata Banerjee is unwilling to allow the rule of law to prevail. Her brazen interference in the functioning of the police force is fast driving West Bengal towards anarchy. This was evident in the aftermath of the Garden Reach murder, when Banerjee summarily removed the police commissioner, R.K. Pachnanda, from his post because he refused to tailor the first information report according to the diktat of a Trinamul Congress leader. Earlier too, Pachnanda’s former colleague, Damayanti Sen, was transferred to an insignificant post for acting professionally in the Park Street rape case.
It is obvious that the state police force is greatly demoralized after the removal of Pachnanda. The governor, M.K. Narayanan, rightly criticized the TMC’s mishandling of the Garden Reach incident. Banerjee still seems to believe she is indispensable for the state and infallible too. But the deteriorating condition of West Bengal under her regime is starkly evident. It will not be much of a surprise if she is voted out of power in the next elections.
P.B. Saha, Calcutta
Sir — The editorial, “Wrong signal”, expresses concern for the miserable condition of West Bengal. Mamata Banerjee is pushing the state into lawlessness with her dictatorial attitude. The government shields criminals and punishes able police officers. Banerjee’s whimsical nature makes her colleagues nervous about who will become the next target of her ire. With the gradual collapse of law and order, Calcutta is becoming an unsafe city. In this period of crisis, Banerjee enjoying herself at the beach festival in Digha reminds one of the emperor, Nero, playing the fiddle while Rome was burning.
Basir Ahmed, Salboni, West Midnapore
Sir — The farce staged in relation to the removal of R.K. Pachnanda indicates the state of chaos that the law-enforcing authority of this state is in. The editorial, “Wrong signal”, does not mince words when it points out that “much must be rotten in a state where criminals are protected by the rulers”. Perhaps this is a fitting ‘accolade’ for a government which had been voted to power with a massive mandate not long ago. It is not the removal of the police commissioner, the shielding of criminals or the breakdown of law and order that bother the people as much as having to endure an obsessed and despotic person as the chief minister.
It is true that incidents similar to the Garden Reach case have taken place even during the Left Front’s regime. But that does not give the present dispensation the right to act in a wayward manner. And the extent to which this regime has gone to shield criminals is unprecedented. It now remains to be seen how much further the TMC will stoop.
Dipak Banerjee, Calcutta
Sir — Incidents similar to the removal of R.K. Pachnanda had taken place during the Left Front’s rule as well. There has also been large-scale violence in the last phase of the Left’s regime. Although there have been some ugly incidents during the rule of the TMC-led government, it has also taken a few positive steps and cannot be dismissed altogether. It is true that West Bengal is in a shambles. Violence must be curbed. Political interference in the work of the police force must also stop. It is, no doubt, the chief minister’s responsibility to rebuild the state. But there are not enough reasons yet to believe that Mamata Banerjee has given up on this goal. One can see that she is trying to bring the bandh culture to an end. The people of West Bengal should let the present government complete its full term before passing a judgment.
Jayant Mukherjee, Calcutta