West Bengal Chief Minister reiterates her demand that Centre should remove him as Governor
The blazing row between West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar further intensified on Monday with Ms. Banerjee alleging that Mr. Dhankhar’s name had figured in Jain Hawala diaries. In a quick reaction, Mr. Dhankhar said the remarks were “far from facts and plain and simple untruth”.
“He is a corrupted man; I am sorry to say or corruption-oriented man. How can the Centre allow such a Governor…This Governor’s name also figured in Jain Hawala diaries which was cleared by courts, but a PIL is pending,” Ms. Banerjee said at a press conference at the Secretariat. She said his name was mentioned in the chargesheet in the case.
Mr. Dhankhar told journalists at the Raj Bhavan that his name was not mentioned in the chargesheet and he was surprised such an allegation came from such a seasoned politician. “This is the crudest misinformation and far away from truth and these optics cannot dampen my spirit and come in the way of discharge of my duties.”
Reiterating her demand that the Centre should remove him as Governor, Ms. Banerjee said “she has never come across such a Governor in her career”. The Chief Minister, however, said she will continue to extend all constitutional courtesies like meeting and speaking to him. The Chief Minister also raised questions on the Governor’s visit to north Bengal and accused him of fermenting trouble in the region.
“Whom did he meet, BJP MP, MLAs and block presidents. Why did he suddenly decide on visiting north Bengal to create divisions? Some people also told me that he asked them to agitate,” Ms. Banerjee said.
The Governor, borrowing a quote from former parliamentarian Ajit Panja where he had allegedly said Ms. Banerjee was prone to “ knee jerk reactions”, said her comments came after he called her for a meeting on Tuesday.
According to the Governor, the reason behind Ms. Banerjee remarks was that he disagreed with her on the draft of on Governor’s address approved by the Cabinet for the first session of newly elected Assembly.
“After going through the draft of the address, I felt that it contained certain portions that I think will not go well with the common people of the State. So as per my constitutional responsibilities, I wrote a letter to the Chief Minister that on certain issues in the draft I may have deliberations with her tomorrow,” he said.
Mr. Dhankhar said he received a call from the Chief Minister 10 minutes before the press conference where she said the contents of the draft were prepared by the Cabinet. The Governor, who returned from north Bengal on Monday, said there have been no elections in the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration (GTA) area since 2017 and democracy has been stifled there. Mr. Dhankhar has also pressed for audit of the GTA by the Comptroller and Auditor General.
The developments on Monday have further intensified war of words between the Governor and the Chief Minister. The strain in the ties has been more evident since May 5, 2021, when Ms. Banerjee was sworn in as the Chief Minister for the third consecutive time.
According to constitutional experts, the differences over the Governor’s address may lead to an imbroglio. Speaker Biman Banerjee on Monday convened an all-party meeting and said the session will convene from July 2.