The Congress central leadership and its Bengal unit took divergent stands on Mamata Banerjee’s allegation that West Bengal Governor Keshari Nath Tripathi had threatened and insulted her over the phone. The Congress in Delhi demanded that Tripathi be sacked as Governor and it echoed the Bengal CM’s allegations. But in West Bengal, Congress state chief Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury said he had no “valid reason” to demand Tripathi’s recall and said he had found the governor to be a “thorough gentleman and affable person”.
The compulsion of keeping the Opposition united before the Presidential election is uppermost on the Congress’s mind in New Delhi, but it seems to have let the state unit take a different line for local political necessities. “It is wrong on the part of the Governor to threaten an elected CM. He should be recalled…. He should be sacked. No Governor has the right to reprimand any elected Chief Minister. That is not the scheme of our Constitution,” Congress spokesperson Sushmita Dev said at an AICC briefing.
Chowdhury, on the other hand, told The Indian Express that his personal view was that it was “utterly unbecoming” of the Chief Minister and the governor to go public with their “bickering”. “Both hold constitutional posts. There may be dispute or argument between them, but to express displeasure in the full public glare should not be done…. He said there is a competent forum and authority to whom he or she can lodge their protest,” he said.
“We are still in the dark on what exactly transpired between them…. We want to know what kind of humiliation, what kind of language was used by the governor,” Chowdhury said. He said that on more than one occasion “I have met the Governor. Mamata Banerjee never gave consent to meet us. Whenever the Opposition sought appointments with her, she declined…. So we were forced to meet the Governor on more than one occasion. And my observation is that the Governor is a thorough gentleman, thorougly affable person…. It is my personal observation,” he said.