Millennium Post

Keep private opinions private

Press Council Chairman Justice Katju’s comments on a sitting chief minister has raised quite a few heckles. In a public function in Kolkata a little more than a week ago, Justice Katju had publicly lambasted Mamata Banerjee as increasingly intolerant and whimsical and requested her to mend her ways of governance to let the rule of democracy prevail. Expectedly, Trinamool Congress has taken a strong stand against the comment. Mamata Banerjee has seen this as a design, saying that he belongs to that group who is afraid of the rule of ‘Ma Mati Manush’  under her and wants to undermine her achievement.  This week, senior TMC leader and senior counsel in Calcutta High Court Kalyan Banerjee reiterated that the retired judge was under the influence of people and groups who were opposed to Banerjee. He also challenged Katju’s rights to comment on a sitting chief minister. As per Kalyan Banerjee, the retired judge as a Press Council Chairman is not entitled to pass judgement on a constitutionally and legally elected head of state.

The opposition and disgruntlement of TMC leaders to the comment is virulent and not only Banerjee but even Dinesh Trivedi, a sort of TMC rebel who after having been ousted as Railways Minister by his party chief, shares a uneasy relation with Mamata Banerjee, has come to her defense about the comment. Trivedi’s defence shows that TMC is trying to close ranks when it comes to defending the image of the TMC chief and Bengal CM as being autocratic and intolerant in office.

But the real issue is not what TMC thinks. The real issue is if Katju has crossed his lines, his mandate, in publicly criticising Banerjee. Katju who had a rather successful stint as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court has lately been come kind of a loose canon and no doubt has been at the centre of a few controversies. Even as Press Council Chairman he had not long ago sought to advice newspapers and the popular media what their role as a public institution ought to be, an advice which of course did not go too well with media professionals and promoters.  As far as Banerjee’s stint in office is concerned or the mechanisms of her governance, Katju should not let out his personal views impact public opinion. He can have strong views, but they should be rendered in private. Anybody like him in office should let the people decide as and when it is appropriate who is intolerant and undemocratic, if at all. 
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