Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar will meet Union Home Minister Amit Shah in New Delhi on Thursday and is expected to discuss the law-and-order situation, among other issues, in Bengal.
A statement issued by the Raj Bhavan on Wednesday said, “West Bengal Governor Shri Jagdeep Dhankhar would be on an official visit to Delhi from Oct 28-30. Governor Dhankhar leaves for Delhi on the evening of Oct 28 and returns to Kolkata on Oct 30. His engagements include calling on the Union Home Minister Shri Amit Shah on Oct 29.”
Dhankhar has repeatedly attacked the TMC government over political killings and shared crime data — which was termed “misguiding” by the State Home Department — on social media.
Following his short trip to Delhi, Dhankhar will embark on a month-long visit to Darjeeling from November 1. “Mr Dhankhar will be staying at the Raj Bhavan in Darjeeling,” the statement said.
Dhankhar is also scheduled to address a press conference in Siliguri on November 1.
Why the meeting is significant
According to political observers, the Governor’s visit to North Bengal assumes significance ahead of 2021 state Assembly polls and after the Bimal Gurung faction of Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) pulled out of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) and extended its support to the TMC.
In his first public appearance in three years, Gurung had on October 21 announced breaking ties with the NDA, saying the BJP-led Central government did not fulfil its promise of Gorkhaland. He also extended his party’s support to the Mamata Banerjee-led Trinamool Congress (TMC) for the 2021 West Bengal Assembly elections and vowed to give a befitting reply to the BJP for letting the people of the Hills down.
The TMC, however, refused to give importance to Dhankhar’s visit to Darjeeling. “He has every right to visit any part of the state. Usually, Governors do spend time in Darjeeling in November. Previous Governors of Bengal had done it. So there is nothing exceptional in his scheduled visit,” said TMC MP Sougata Roy.
Sources in TMC said the political realignment would change several ground equations in North Bengal in the party’s favour as Gurung enjoys influence in 12-14 Assembly seats and holds sway over 11 Gorkha communities. The community is also a deciding factor in 18-20 Assembly seats spread across Darjeeling, Kalimpong, Jalpaiguri and Alipurduar.
On the other hand, BJPs’ response to Dhankhar’s visit was cryptic. “He is the representative of the Centre and the constitutional head of the state. All parties reach out to him when they need his advice. Now, it is up to him to work accordingly,” said West Bengal BJP president Dilip Ghosh. The Hills have repeatedly witnessed violent agitation over the demand for a separate state for more than three decades, the latest being in June 2017 when the Hills saw a 104-day-long strike over the issue.
The agitation had led to a split in the GJM, with Binay Tamang, once a deputy to Gurung, taking over the reins of the party and expelling his supremo. The Gurung faction had then continued to support the BJP, while Tamang and his group had joined hands with the TMC.
— WITH PTI Inputs
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