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HomeThePrint #OTCWorking to get ‘mamta’ from CM Mamata Banerjee: Bengal Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar

Working to get ‘mamta’ from CM Mamata Banerjee: Bengal Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar

At ThePrint’s ‘Off the Cuff’ event in Kolkata, Governor Dhankhar says no government can control him, only the Constitution and the law can.

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Kolkata: West Bengal Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar and Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee have been locked in a war of words almost since he assumed office in July 2019. But despite the acrimony, Dhankhar insists he has made multiple attempts to engage Banerjee in a discussion over administrative issues.

In a conversation with ThePrint’s Editor-in-Chief Shekhar Gupta and Political Editor D.K. Singh at an Off the Cuff event in Kolkata Saturday, Dhankhar said he wasn’t the one who started the war of words, but merely “reacted” to the “insult” meted out to him repeatedly by Banerjee and her cabinet colleagues. He said he hoped to get “mamta (motherly love) from Mamata ji”. “I am still working on it,” the governor said.

Dhankhar said he feels that adversarial tactics won’t work in resolving issues between the Raj Bhavan and the state government, but added that he can never been controlled by any government, and that under no circumstances would he betray his oath.

‘Insulted and humiliated’

The conflict between the governor and the CM have led to discussions about the constitutional powers of Dhankhar’s office, with many senior ministers weighing in on the issue. Banerjee has claimed on several occasions that the “nominated person”, meaning the governor, is an “agent” of the Narendra Modi government at the Centre, and has been sent to “disturb” the elected Trinamool Congress government of West Bengal.

Dhankhar, however, denied these charges, saying he was “insulted” and “humiliated” in almost every initiative he took to resolve issues.

Speaking about the powers of a governor, he said: “We have had governors over the last several decades, commissions indicating what the governors should and shouldn’t be doing… My duty is to protect the Constitution. Only the Indian Constitution and law can control me, and nobody else. Nobody writes my scripts. Their scripts may be written by others.”

Dhankhar reiterated that Banerjee was not adhering to her constitutional obligation to meet and brief the governor. “The chief minister never briefed me on anything. So many things happened. There was cyclone Bulbul, the state suffered. Then, there is this protest going on. Trains and stations were burnt, tracks uprooted. But I was never briefed by her about all these. I requested her to have a discussion at her convenience, but that too did not happen till now,” he said.

“I have been insulted so many times. Assembly gates were locked when I visited, and I did not visit without notice. I went to a university, but the room of the V-C was locked. I went to two districts, the district magistrates were absent and wrote identical letters to me stating they did not have sanctions to see me,” Dhankhar added.

Protests against the CAA

On the protests against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, Dhankhar said it is now a part of the country’s law, duly passed by Parliament, and any issue for redressal should be through the judiciary and not through street protests and rhetoric.

He said the “most painful moment” for him came during PM Modi’s visit to the state last week. “In one function, the CM was present. After she left, she had to face the wrath of some people. They were protesting against CAA and questioning her decision to meet the PM. She told them, what could she have done, and that the PM came by air and took a water route to reach another location,” he said.

“I am the constitutional head of the state. How can a CM dare to say this about a PM — that he would have been dealt with differently had he taken the road!”

Dhankhar also questioned Banerjee’s decision to use government funds to encourage and fund such an agitation. “Government funds are being used for advertisements against the CAA. They are using advertisements to encourage agitation against a law that was duly passed by Parliament. The court, however, stopped it. I wrote to the CM about this, but to no avail,” he said.

Nuclear weapons in the time of Mahabharat

Dhankhar also addressed the controversy over his comments that in the epic Mahabharat, Arjuna’s arrow had nuclear weapons attached.

“I will send you some shlokas and these are thousands of years old. It was not an off-the-cuff observation by me. This was a carefully studied situation,” he said.

“One thing you will agree, udan khatola (airborne vehicles) were there in mythology. Take it mythologically. I have very sound critics on these. I respect those people. But then, it is not necessary for me to agree (with their viewpoint). Those nuclear weapons, which are mentioned in mythology, believed in the technique we had. Very different,” Dhankhar said.

“Saying ‘nuclear’ is one part of it. The energy, nuclear energy, was in fact used at that point of time. And Shekhar Gupta ji, after getting inputs from the concerned people, and with an open mind, we will surely conclude that what I have indicated is borne out historically… We can agree to disagree. There are not only people who believe in the thought process I have indicated, there are many who believe in your thought process also. That is why I have been saying, in the state of West Bengal, learn to disagree with grace. That’s what Swami Vivekananda ji said,” he added.

Also read: Is Mamata wasting political capital by clashing with Bengal governor Jagdeep Dhankhar?

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  1. When one listens to the chat with Gov Dhankar, it gives a sordid picture of how executive can treat a constitutional authority in this shoddy insulting manner. He is almost rendered helpless and inactive by the executive action. I am sure this must be the pattern in WB in earlier days as well. While there is little one can do legally for this mistreatment, people of Bengal should wake up and change the behavior of their executive. I am not sure if Governors meet similar fate in other states as well. If this is so, then we ought to revisit the role of this institution and if found redundant, we should abolish this office.

    It must be said that the manner in which Shekhar and the his colleague were asking personal questions to Gov Dhankar was demeaning and not in consonance with the dignity of the office of Governor. May be his personality is mercurial but a person like Shekhar should know better, unless he was up to his usual anti-Modi agenda!

    • Yes, an appropriate comment. Till we have the constitutional provision to have a Governor in a state, we must maintain the dignity of the holder of that post. As far as Shekhar Gupta’s questioning the Governor is concerned the “demeaning” questioning has helped in presenting the case of the governor in the right earnest and perspectives.

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