Sparks fly between Governor and C.M. in West Bengal

Published : December 25, 2019 18:49 IST

West Bengal Governor Jagdeep Dhankar. Photo: Swapan Mahapatra/PTI

Even as West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and the Bharatiya Janata Party-led government at the Centre have locked horns over the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, there is also a bitter proxy battle going on between the Centre and the State government through Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar and the Chief Minister.

Relations between the two have been tense for some time, with allegations and harsh words flying from both sides over issues both trivial and serious almost on a daily basis. However, the issue of the CAA brought relations to a new low. Jagdeep Dhankhar attacked Mamata on her resolute stand against the CAA and said she could not criticise the Act because it was “the law of the land”. He sought an update on the violence that had erupted in different parts of the State from December 13. “I am extremely anguished that C.M. and Ministers are to spearhead rally against CAA, law of the land. This is unconstitutional. I call upon C.M. to desist from this unconstitutional and inflammatory act at this juncture and devote to retrieve the grim situation,” Dhankhar posted on social media on December 16. He also wrote: “In view of enormity of situation I have called upon Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee to personally update me at Raj Bhawan.... There is no response from Chief Secretary and DGP thus far. This is unfortunate and unexpected of them.”

Mamata responded with a strongly worded letter saying, “I am really sorry to see your frequent tweets and press briefings criticising the State government…. The constitutional obligation in my view is to support the State government machinery to maintain peace and harmony rather than aggravating the situation by provoking the elements who may attempt to disturb the order and tranquillity.”

The Governor replied with a letter of his own, in which he said: “You are fully aware that during my brief period here, I have been heaped indignities, with your Ministers being on rampage with most vituperative language. My constitutional position was repeatedly compromised.”

The matter degenerated further when, on December 24, Dhankhar was prevented from presiding over the convocation at Jadavpur University by staff members affiliated to the Trinamool Congress. For one and a half hours, the Governor, who is also the Chancellor of the university, waited to be allowed into the venue of the convocation. “State government has brought situation to this level that education system has become totally politicised,” said Dhankhar, when he was finally forced to leave. He also came down heavily on Vice Chancellor Suranjan Das. “The Vice Chancellor said, Sir, I am helpless. If you helpless then give it up,” said the Governor.

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