Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Saturday wrote a 13-page letter to Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar, accusing him of trying to “usurp powers” amid the coronavirus crisis, and asked him to desist from using official communications and logos on social media.
On April 23 and 24, Dhankhar had written two letters, including a 14-page one, to the CM.
“When I read your two letters and many earlier ones as well, I felt more sad than angry. My second emotion was one of amusement,” Banerjee wrote, listing Dhankhar’s “choicest epithets”.
Referring to the letters, she wrote, “Such words and such communications of such content, tenor and tone from a Governor to an elected CM are unprecedented in the annals of Indian constitutional and political history.”
“I beseech you to desist from intensifying your efforts to usurp powers, especially during the humongous crisis which the nation and WB is grappling with… remind you to also desist from… using the official communications/logos between Nabanna (Secretariat) and Raj Bhavan for continuous tweets in the social media, hold my officers responsible for things about which they do not have liberty to open their mouths in the social media, and hold press conferences unilaterally attacking my Government, Ministers and Officers.”
She further wrote that she had a list of the Governor’s communications, in which he had used words about the CM and her minister and officers, which “can only be described as vituperative, intemperate, intimidating, abusive and insulting.”
She also quoted a few expressions used by the Governor, such as “like loose cannons in public domain; driven by external script; theatrics and politicking, law unto oneself… bravado mode of collision”. However, she added that “preaching without practice and sermonising while violating, does not behave you or your office.”
However, within half an hour the Governor responded on Twitter saying, “Response to my letter dated April 24 has been sent by Mamata Banerjee today and is in public domain. Hence, this comment prior to response at the outset in this critical time I urge her to focus on grim situation and work in togetherness towards alleviating untold public miseries.”
He added that while he found no substance in her version, both in fact and law, he appreciated her stance “for full cooperation with State Government”.
“Persistently I had been beseeching her to work in togetherness as we are faced virtually with roof falling situation. Hope she acts as such,” he tweeted. He added that a reply would be sent as her letter had content to which he could not “subscribe as it eclipses essence of constitution.”
In Saturday’s letter, Banerjee cited three supreme court judgments and said, “You may (politely) bring your grievance to my attention (not write to Ministers, Departments, Officers or go to Press or Public) and, If it is still not resolved to your satisfaction, there is unfortunately no other power in you, so long as my Government commands the confidence of the legislature… howsoever much you may disagree or dislike decisions of the state government, in cases of legislation or even otherwise, you are obliged to sign and accede to the state government’s wishes, subject, where applicable, to your single right of referral back.”
At the end, Banerjee told Dhankhar that he had limited powers to bring about any change and urged him to act “politely”.