As people mourned the death of veteran singer Manna Dey Thursday,politics was playing out in the background,with West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee making a desperate bid to bring the body to Kolkata for last rites with state honours.
His family,however,refused,preferring to let the veteran singer rest next to his wife in Bangalore.
We received four phone calls from the Chief Minister of West Bengal to send the body to Kolkata for last rites. As the funeral procession was heading to the crematorium we were told by the protocol officer of the Karnataka government that there was a request from West Bengal to stop the proceedings and send the body to Kolkata, Jnan Ranjan Deb,son-in-law of Dey,said after the funeral.
I said we are sorry we cannot bring the body to Kolkata but we will bring the ashes and the Chief Minister made a nasty comment that we dont want ashes. An educated Chief Minister would not have said that, he said.
Family members of Dey said the West Bengal government was trying to use his death for politics when he was never in politics. For the five-and-a-half months that he was in hospital we never heard from the West Bengal government. At his death they want him, Deb said.
The family is particularly cut up because the West Bengal police interrogated the singer while he was in ICU in connection with a complaint it filed about a relative siphoning off nearly Rs 30 lakh from his bank account in Kolkata.
They never did anything about it until we approached the courts and then they interrogated him in ICU, Deb said.
Soon after news of the death,which occurred at 3.40 am,broke,a West Bengal government team that included MP Kalyan Banerjee and two ministers arrived in Bangalore and tried to convince Deys daughter Shumita and Deb for a funeral in Kolkata,said officials at Narayana Hrudayalaya,the hospital where the singer was under treatment.
The daughter of Manna Dey and his son-in-law were inclined to perform the last rites in Bangalore because his wife was cremated in the city, K S Vasuki,general manager (healthcare relations) at the hospital,said.
When he was ailing and money was siphoned off from his bank account (allegedly by his nephew),we wrote several times to the Chief Minister and the Commissioner of Police but no one paid heed… There is no point taking the body to Kolkata, Shumita said.
Mamata Banerjee told reporters she had told the singer to stay at her residence but he refused. He had difficulty climbing stairs. I told him my house is on the ground floor. My mother is no more. He could come over and stay. But he declined, she said.
The body of Dey was kept briefly at Ravindra Kalakshetra before it was cremated at Hebbal. Around 150 people,including Kalyan Banerjee and other delegates from West Bengal,attended the funeral.