A day before West Bengal Governor Jagdeep Dhankar’s planned visit to areas affected by post-poll violence in the state, a war of words has erupted between him and Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee.
After Governor Dhankar announced that he would be visiting Coochbehar to visit such affected areas on Thursday, 13 May, Banerjee wrote to him, saying that the visit violates long-standing protocols.
The Governor said that he would visit Dinhata, Sitai, Sitalkuchi and Mathabhanga in Cooch Behar on Thursday.
After receiving the letter from Banerjee, Dhankar has responded by writing a letter, in which he has urged her to revisit her stance and “commit to constitution that by oath she is obligated to uphold and follow.
At least 16 people were killed in post-poll violence in West Bengal, as political clashes erupted in the state since the results of the Assembly polls were announced on 2 May.
WHAT DID MAMATA BANERJEE SAY?
Referring to the Manual of Protocols and Ceremonials, Government of West Bengal, Home Department, 1990, Banerjee pointed out that the program for the Governor’s visit to districts is finalised by the Secretary to the Governor following consultation with the State Government.
"I find from social media that you are unilaterally proceeding to Cooch Behar district on May 13 and, sadly, I find that to be violative of the long-standing norms as evolved over several decades," Banerjee said in her letter.
“I, therefore, would expect you will kindly follow the well-established norms of protocol, as stated above, and desist from abrupt decisions with regards to field visits,” she added.
Reminding the Governor that in her letter dated 26 September, 2020, she had advised him to “refrain from surpassing the Chief Minister and her Council of Ministers” Mamata stated that he was “steadily ignoring the advice.”
WHAT DID GOVERNOR DHANKAR SAY?
In his letter in response to Banerjee, Dhankar rebuked the chief minister for her “optics” and “playing to the gallery” and added that her stance reflected in her letter to him “betrays elementary ignorance of constitutional provisions”.
“We both, being constitutional functionaries are subject to the constitution. I am sure you will at least concede supremacy of constitution, that by oath you are ordained to follow,” he wrote.
Further, he went on to state that he was appalled that Banerjee was even “contemplating that in making visits the Governor has to obtain orders of the Government”.
“Constitution mandates under Article 159 that I will ‘to the best of my ability preserve, protect and defend the Constitution and the law and that I will devote myself to the service and well being of the people of West Bengal’. I would do all that is expected out of my oath,” he added.
The governor urged Banerjee to take note of the post-poll violence that had brought about an “alarming situation” in the state, and once again asked her to revisit her stance and commit herself to the Constitution.
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