Kolkata: West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar are at loggerheads once again — this time over the latter summoning the state’s Director General of Police, Virendra, on 5 September, and calling the state “home to illegal bomb making” in a following note on 20 September.
Governor Dhankhar had also alleged in the note to DGP Virendra that the police “overlooked rampant and open loot in PDS distribution, Amphan relief funds, and criminal negligence by officials during the Covid-19 pandemic”.
CM Mamata Banerjee then shot off a nine-page letter to the governor on 26 September, saying: “I was extremely upset, anguished and disillusioned on reading your captioned letter and the address to the DGP which was placed before me, as well as to see your Twitter post regarding the same. Your aspersions sadly consist of uncorroborated judgements and insinuations against the state police and the state government.”
‘Unlawful, unwarranted, unconstitutional’ demand
The CM’s letter to the governor is her second in the last four months, after a five-page letter sent in May.
In Saturday’s letter, Banerjee referred to Article 163 of the Constitution, and said the governor is “mandated to act as per the aid and advice” of the chief minister and the council of ministers, but Dhankhar’s interventions in some incidents and administrative functions have been “unwarranted excesses”.
“Your inquiry into criminal investigation in connection with a particular accused A. Singh (BJP MP Arjun Singh) and seeking reports regarding the investigation processes from the DGP is not information regarding any executive or legislative proposal, and such inquiry not only amounts to interference in the day-to-day administration of the state government but also gives rise to serious suspicions of interference in and influencing on-going investigations,” the CM’s letter read.
Mamata Banerjee went on to add that Governor Dhankhar has tried to “defame” the DGP for his non-compliance with his “unlawful and unwarranted demands”, and he is now trying to “arm-twist” him to capitulate to his “unconstitutional request”.
The CM also wrote that a governor should not act like a representative of any political party, adding: “I request, aid and advise you in the capacity of the chief minister of this state, to act within the mandates of the Constitution and refrain from acting on a political mandate.”
Banerjee had also shot off a five-page letter to the governor in April, mentioning the post’s “restricted powers”.
‘Didn’t appear three times’
Speaking to ThePrint, Governor Dhankhar said this is the third time DGP Virendra hasn’t turned up after being requested. He called it “gross misconduct”, and also took exception to the chief minister writing on his behalf.
He pointed out that CM Mamata Banerjee had sat on a dharna last February after a CBI team had reached the residence of Kolkata’s former commissioner of police Rajeev Kumar, in connection with the chit fund scam.
Reacting to the 26 September letter, Dhankhar said: “The DGP of Bengal did not appear as requested for the third time in a row. It can’t be overlooked. He does not want to explain affairs. The CM writes on his behalf. Is this what constitutionalism envisages? Is the CM being rightly counselled?”
He added that this is “gross misconduct” by the DGP.
The governor also made his note-sheet public, and said the DGP gave a one-line response to his letter, in which he said: “West Bengal police fully adhere to the path laid down by the law. There is no discrimination for or against anyone in an extra legal sense.”
Dhankhar had mentioned in his 20 September note: “There can just be no takers of his assertion in the state and outside. Nothing can be farther from grim reality and truth. (The state) is safe haven to terror, crime, flourishing illegal bomb making and corruption, resulting in atrocious violation of human rights and oppressive quelling of all opposition.”