She threatens to “slap” “uncivil” photojournalists jostling for space at an event

For the second time in four days, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee lost her cool in public. This time her ire was directed at photojournalists whom she threatened to “slap,” calling them “uncivil” during a visit to “Matir Utsav” (Festival of the Soil) at Panagarh in Bardhaman district on Saturday.

Footage beamed by some local television channels on Sunday showed Ms. Banerjee at a stall at the festival. “I will give you a slap… You uncivil lot,” she said, angry with photojournalists jostling for space there.

The incident that evoked strong reactions from across the political spectrum came three days after she had chastised a police official in her security staff, saying “he should be whipped.”

She was upset at having had to wait for her car after a visit to the 37 Kolkata Book Fair on February 6. 

For State Congress’ Pradip Bhattacharya, such outbursts of Ms. Banerjee were a “disease” whose “cure” he was not sure of.

“If the people of West Bengal know of such a cure, I will appeal to them to provide the medicine to her… Otherwise it could make things difficult,” he told The Hindu.

Senior leader of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) and member of its central committee Mohd. Salim said the Chief Minister’s remark at the fair, as well as the one directed at her security staff last week, “betrayed a feudal attitude and a tendency towards authoritarianism.”