The governor also slammed Speaker Biman Banerjee for "violating protocol" by inviting him to speak at the Constitution Day special session in the Assembly on November 26 after other dignitaries.
West Bengal Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar, who is at loggerheads with the TMC government in the state, on Friday hit out at Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee for “humiliating” him “on every occasion” and not briefing him regularly. This will only “belittle” her own stature, Dhankhar told PTI in an interview and urged Banerjee, for whom he professed “enormous respect”, to introspect and find the way forward.
The governor also slammed Speaker Biman Banerjee for “violating protocol” by inviting him to speak at the Constitution Day special session in the Assembly on November 26 after other dignitaries. “Have you ever seen in any part of India that a governor of a state (is) being asked to address the assembly in a queue at number five and precedence being given to former governor (M K Naryanan), former Lok Sabha speaker (Meira Kumar) and former chief election commissioner (S Y Quraishi)? “This is a gross violation of protocol. Suffering this great indignity, looking at the importance of the day I went… His conduct leaves much to be desired.” Dhankhar said.
Keeping up his attack against Mamata Banerjee, he said under the Constitution the CM is obliged to brief the governor but he has not been informed by Banerjee even once. “It is her constitutional duty as chief minister to brief the governor,” he asserted.
“After Cyclone Bulbul I wrote a letter to her asking her to brief me. But most unfortunately it was replied by the principal home secretary. I take exception to such kind of conduct. My communication to the chief minister has to be replied only by her and none else,” Dhankar said. Refuting allegations against him that he is crossing his “constitutional limits” and is “trying to run a parallel government”, the governor challenged the TMC government to cite one instance of it.
“I am working as per the Constitution. It is not my job to run the government. But it is my job to ensure that the government is run in accordance with the Constitution. If there is violation of the Constitution anywhere, I will step in. Her (Banerjee’s) oath is allegiance to the Constitution, my oath is to protect the Constitution,” he said.
The governor raked up the alleged disrespect shown to him at the state government-sponsored Durga Puja carnival and at the November 26 special session of Assembly on Constitution Day and asked Banerjee to think about it. “Such behaviour is unworthy of her (Banerjee’s) stature and her position … While I may have been humiliated this has resulted in the belittling of her own stature. I am sure given her experience she will reflect, think of a way forward with constructive approach,” Dhankhar, who is a former parliamentarian himself, said.
Criticising the state’s ministers for “acting in the most unbecoming manner” and meting out “calculated disrespect” against him, Dhankhar said “No one in TMC or the government speaks without Banerjee’s consent given the iron grip she has over them.” He refuted the chief minister’s charge of being a “BJP mouthpiece at the Raj Bhawan” and referred to the recent controversy over the show of acrimony between him and Banerjee during the Constitution Day programme in the Assembly.
“At 5.30 pm when I went to the assembly, she (Banerjee) was nowhere to receive me. Please look at her posture and body language and the distance she maintained. Yet I am being questioned about my discourtsey. “The ball is in the other court. However, with folded hands I greeted everybody who were close (sic) to me, I showed my warmth,” Dhankhar said. He said that while Banerjee had accompanied the other guests when they garlanded the statue of B R Ambedkar in the Bengal assembly premises, she was nowhere to be found when he reached there for the purpose. Dhankhar’s comments come in the backdrop of the ongoing controversy over the absence of pleasantries between him and Banerjee in the Assembly.
Banerjee had on Thursday hit out at him saying that “a BJP leader has come to Bengal who does not even have the courtesy to return a salutation”. Asked to comment on the contentious NRC, which the Union Home Minister has said would be implemented in Bengal and the rest of the country as well and is being opposed tooth and nail by Banerjee, Dhankhar declined to reply. He, however, said that no constitutional functionary on mission mode should go to the public domain challenging something which lawfully emnates from the Parliament.
Dhankhar refrained from making any comment on the law and order situation in the state and said on certain issues he prefers to speak only to the state government and does not want to share it in the public domain. Asked whether in near future Bengal would witness a better working relationship between the governor and the state government, Dhankhar said “The state government should first close the black holes for the governor”.
Asked to comment on the government turning down his request for a chopper to travel to the districts twice, Dhankhar said Banerjee’s excuse of relief operations post Cyclone BulBul was a “sham”. “Why are they (state government) taking shelter behind (Cyclone) Bulbul?I travelled 700 km by road (to Murshidabad) and the CM lands in a helicopter.Just ask them how many times the CM has taken helicopter rides after Bulbul?” the governor said. The media should find out how many times helicopters had been used by the government in the last four months and for what purpose, he added.