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Governor’s Singur visit sparks fresh row; Mamata, Dhankhar trade barbs

The Governor has requested the state government to arrange a helicopter for his visit to Farakka in Murshidabad district on Friday where he will be attending the silver jubilee celebrations of SNH College.

By: Express News Service | Kolkata | Published: November 15, 2019 5:54:33 am
“It is not easy to travel 600 km in a day by car. I tried to secure a helicopter… It is not available as of now,” Dhankar later said. (Express photo by Partha Paul)

The acrimony between the West Bengal Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar and the Trinamool Congress government in the state deepened on Thursday with a fresh round of war of words.

While Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, without taking the Governor’s name, said that “there are some people who are behaving like a BJP mouthpiece and want to run a parallel administration”, Dhankhar, on the other hand, hit out at the government for criticising his impromptu visit to Singur.

“There are some people who are behaving just like a BJP mouthpiece. They want to run a parallel administration. The Central government is an elected body and the state government is also an elected body. The federal structure must work as per our Constitution. It should be allowed to work… Some nominated persons…. they are behaving too much. They should not even supersede the Central government. The Centre must take care of it,” Mamata told mediapersons here after attending a review meeting.

Her remarks come days after Governor paid a surprise visit to Singur BDO office on Monday. Though Dhankhar could not meet the BDO or his deputy since both were on leave, he had expressed his disappointment, saying he wanted to know more about Singur.

Singur and Nandigram had witnessed movements against land acquisition in the last decade that catapulted Trinamool Congress to power in the state ending the 34-year-rule of the Left Front.

The Trinamool Congress had slammed the Governor for allegedly exceeding his brief and wondered whether he understood his “constitutional bindings” for making unscheduled stopovers at government offices and reviewing administrative work.

Dhankhar on Thursday asked if the government was trying to conceal something in Singur and Nandigram. “I went to Singur recently and questions are being raised about my visit. I had informed government officials before going there. If there is so much hue and cry for visiting any place in West Bengal, then I feel like spending a lot of time in Singur and Nandigram. As Governor of West Bengal, I should possess knowledge about everything that is going on there. The more you try to hide something the more people will want to see it. If you trying to hide something, then I will definitely want to see it,” Dhankhar told mediapersons.

Meanwhile, the Governor has requested the state government to arrange a helicopter for his visit to Farakka in Murshidabad district on Friday where he will be attending the silver jubilee celebrations of SNH College. A press note released by Raj Bhavan said that a response from the government in this regard is still awaited.

“Keeping in view the delay involved, communication in that matter has already been sent by him to honourable Chief Minister, but a response to that is awaited,” read the statement.

According to a PTI report, the Raj Bhavan had requested the state government for the chopper earlier this week.

“I don’t do any politics on whether I can visit a place or not. I will assess the situation, and if my visit is required I will go. I am going to Malda tomorrow. I will be travelling 600 km. I will leave Raj Bhawan at 5 am for the cause of education. It is not easy to travel 600 km in a day by car. I tried to secure a helicopter… It is not available as of now,” he later said.

However, state minister Chandrima Bhattacharya questioned the Governor’s request for a helicopter.

“First, he (the Governor) must inform the state government what is the purpose of his visit and why does he need a helicopter. The Chief Minister used a helicopter this week as the situation demanded it. She needed to monitor the areas affected by Cyclone Bulbul, and assess the damage caused by it. We want to know why does he need a helicopter. He is going out every day and making political statements. He is doing it intentionally as he wants to stay in politics,” Bhattacharya said.

She also slammed the Governor for his visit to Singur BDO officer.

“Instead of discharging duties of a Governor, he is working as a political leader here. This is very unfortunate. People of Bengal want him to work as per his constitutional limits and obligations. Several Governors have worked in Bengal but no Governor ever visited government offices all of a sudden,” the minister added.

Dhankhar, who assumed office in July-end, has been locked in a war of words with the state government over a number of issues — ranging from his seating at the Durga Puja carnival to comments on his security since he rushed to Jadavpur University on September 19 to “rescue” Union minister Babul Supriyo, who had been gheraoed by a section of students. Last month, there seemed to be a brief thaw when Mamata Banerjee invited him to her house to attend Kali Puja.

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