Kolkata: The Mamata Banerjee government is “outsourced” to a private agency and that’s “a dangerous trend”, West Bengal Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar said.
In an exclusive interview to ThePrint, the governor said the West Bengal government was “ill equipped” to manage a natural calamity like Cyclone Amphan, and that the Covid-19 outbreak exposed the state’s inefficient health infrastructure.
Highlighting that members and leaders of the ruling Trinamool Congress (TMC) are continuously heckling him, he said, “In Bengal, heckling the governor has become a habit. People were hired to do these, they are being remote controlled. Can a government be outsourced? It is a dangerous trend.”
This is the first time that the governor has launched a veiled attack on Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s poll strategist Prashant Kishor.
“It pains my heart to see the Twitter handles of senior politicians be remote-controlled… The chief minister is a nice person. But she should act as the general, not as a soldier,” Dhankhar said.
Dhankhar said he was in touch with many senior TMC leaders who confided in him about their social media handles being taken over by “private agencies”. Calling it an “open secret”, the governor said the agencies are “breaking the spine of these senior politicians”.
“This is an open secret. Got it from the horse’s mouth… I am in touch with most of those politicians. Paid people are let loose to take on the constitutional head (Dhankhar). Some good healthy young minds are being made sick by these agencies. Indian democracy is being polluted by them,” he said.
On Covid-19 and Amphan
Talking about the Covid-19 crisis in West Bengal, Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar said, “As a Governor, it is my responsibility to stand with the government when it is facing a crisis. But I must say that Covid-19 has exposed us.”
As of Friday morning, the state has recorded 4,536 Covid cases and 295 deaths.
“The state has inadequate health infrastructure. It is difficult for an ordinary person to get medical assistance. Had the state decided to be a part of (Modi government’s) Ayushman Bharat, things would have been easier,” he said.
Last week, Dhankhar set a precedent when he attended the review meeting chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on 22 May in Basirhat. CM Mamata Banerjee was also present.
After the meeting, Banerjee asked the Modi government to declare Cyclone Amphan a “national disaster”.
Reacting to this demand, Dhankhar told ThePrint, “The state is suffering like never before. But there should be some background work… she should have given something in writing. Demands should be made to authorities. During Covid-19 outbreak, our credibility was lowest in terms of presenting figures.”
The governor added that West Bengal was “ill-equipped” to handle the aftermath of Amphan, which devastated several parts of the state, including Kolkata, on 20 May.
“The government was alerted by the IMD (India Meteorological Department) days before Amphan hit us. Should not the government be ready with its essential services?” Dhankhar asked.
“They could have prepared a contingency plan. But now, when people are in miserable condition, the private power operator and the government are indulging into ‘tu tu main main’ (war of words). It took three days to call in the Army. The delay could have been avoided,” he added.