Legendary singer Manna Dey's daughter Sumita Thursday turned down West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee's request that his body be brought to Kolkata for the last rites, alleging the state government did not come forward to help the family in a case.
"I pleaded with Mamata Banerjee to help solve a case involving my cousin who siphoned off cash and jewellery from my father's bank locker. This would have helped me foot large bills of Narayana Hrudalaya hospital. I pleaded with (Mamata) government and it did not recognise our pleas. In that case, how shall I honour her words (to bring the body to Kolkata)," Dey's daughter Shumita Deb said. Shumita was speaking to reporters at Hebbal crematorium here where the last rites of Dey, who died in the early hours of today after being in and out of the hospital for more than five months, were performed.
Banerjee later denied the charges.
Hours after the singer breathed his last at a private hospital in Bangalore early Thursday, Banerjee called up Sumita and her husband thrice saying the body should be flown to Kolkata where her government would make arrangements including a gun salute befitting Dey's stature.
But Sumita did not agree.
Initially it was reported that the family took the decision in deference to Dey's last wish that his last rites be performed at the Hebbal crematorium where his wife was also cremated.
But after the cremation, Sumita exploded before the media, accusing her of not cooperating with the family during a police case related to fraudulent withdrawals from Dey's account.
"I did not refuse. I said give me time to think. Because everybody knows what we have been going through for the last five months and ten days (when Dey was admitted to the ICU of the private hospital).
"And I appealed to her many a time, I appealed to the Kolkata police commisisoner. I wrote him a stiff letter eventually when they did not respond.
"And in such a scenario when she (Banerjee) has not come forward, or not even shown any condolence, or any feeling for a family which is going through such rough times.. then how do I treat this? Just she wants the body to go to Kolkata when I had already arranged all the rites over here?"
Sumita said she had to make all the arrangements herself with the help of her Bangalore-based close friends because nobody had come forward.
Dey had filed a police case against one of his nephews for alleged illegal withdrawal of money and jewellery from his bank account and locker. On Sep 30, he had moved the Calcutta High Court pleading for police action against his nephew in the case.
Banerjee, however, denied his government has failed to show proper respect to Dey.
"Is it so? Then why did I meet him in Bangalore? I do not know whether she (Dey's daughter) has said so. It may be because we wanted his body."
The chief minister said Dey does not belong to one particular family.
"He belongs to the entire human family, to the entire music world. I talked to her thrice, her husband also. When I had met Dey in Bangalore this year, I had even offered him the ground floor of my house if he agreed to come to Kolkata, I told him he can stay, as my mother has passed away".
"I am sorry, anybody can blame me, but I cannot blame anyone," she added.
Asked if any Bollywood stars have been in touch with her, Deb said "plenty of them spoke to me and they included Lata Mangeshkar, Asha Bhosale and Pandit Amjad Ali Khan." Asked about the absence of Bollywood celebrities at the funeral, Shumita said "please remember this was done for my father. He was an extremely simple man and he had very high ideals in life."
Bengal govt expresses regret for not getting body of singer
The West Bengal government today expressed regret for not being able to cremate the body of legendary singer Manna Dey here. "We are very sad for not being able to conduct the last rites of the singer here which we wanted," senior minister Subrata Mukherjee said. "Chief minister Mamata Banerjee had earnestly wanted his body be brought here so that the last rites were done here in a graceful and respectful manner," Mukherjee said. Soon after the death news of the singer broke, the chief minister urged Dey's daughter to bring the body here, he said. "But we are deprived of that and we are very sad about this since the singer was born in Kolkata and was essentially a Bengali," Mukherjee said. The minister said that the state government would pay appropriate homage to the singer so that his superb renditions reverberated in the minds of music lovers for years to come.