The war of words between Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar escalated on Thursday as she reminded him that he was “nominated” and accused him of “consistent interference” in the administration.
In a letter addressed to the Governor, she said, “You appear to have forgotten that I am an elected Chief Minister of a proud Indian state. You also seem to have forgotten that you are a nominated Governor. We felt that the powers of the Governor were so limited, so nominal, his position so ornamental that probably very few would come forward to stand for election.”
She further said, “Your repeated and consistent interference in the administration of my ministries and departments makes it clear as to who has flagrantly transgressed constitutional dharma and even basic norms of decency between constitutional functionaries.”
The ties between Banerjee and Dhankhar further soured when he recently targeted the state government over issues related to the state’s handling of coronavirus such as alleged irregularities in distribution of subsidised food grains, non-cooperation with two Inter-Ministerial Central Teams (IMCT) and a few violations of the lockdown.
Barely a couple of hours after Banerjee’s strong words, Dhankhar, in a letter, said her understanding of his “nominated” post was “lamentable”. He also urged her to work together in the fight against the novel coronavirus. He said a detailed response would be sent on Friday so that people “are made aware of indignities and indiscretions heaped by you, your ministers on the Governor all through. Your constant refrain of governor being ‘nominated’ is lamentable and can be ascribed only to elementary ignorance of the Constitution (sic)”.
Pulling no punches, he again hit out at the government for its handling of the coronavirus. “Great sufferings of the people are well known to you, including the recent violent incidents over poor food supply. I need to indicate firmly that there has been total failure at your end all through as regards compliance of constitutional prescriptions qua the constitutional head. The enormity of the situation and lapses at your end are that in spite of repeated communications for compliance you have “black hold” all my communications resulting in virtual negation of Articles 166 and 167 of the Constitution (sic).”
Earlier in the day, Dhakhar tweeted that the government should cooperated with the two central teams, sent to review the state’s preparedness in tackling coronavirus.
Banerjee fumed after reading the tweet and decided to write a letter to him, according to sources in the Chief Minister’s Office.
Reminding him of Sarkaria Commission’s recommendations, she said, “Your tone, tenor and language, which, in the mildest words of extreme moderation, deserve to be characterised as unparliamentarily.”
On Wednesday, answering a question regarding Governor’s reaction on ration “agitation” in Baduria of North 24 Parganas district, Banerjee said, “He is a tall man. We are small people. The less said about him the better.”
In his letter, the governor criticised her for violating the Constitution: “If I go by your response, I should be in ‘sleep mode’, totally non-functional, confined to Raj Bhavan and await the end of COVID 19 pandemic so that you may spare time for interaction with the Constitutional head. This reading of the Constitution at your end or by your advisors is not shared by me and goes against the essence, letter and spirit of the Constitution.”
He did not spare state ministers and called them “loose canons using the most demeaning language against the Governor”. “Your silence unmistakably leads to inference of your approval. The people would be wisened about your stance once tomorrow I make full disclosure of details and documentation that will startle all. I never wanted to take recourse to this, but in view of your factually untenable stand and your going public, this has become a compulsive need (sic).”
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