Sticking to the speech prepared by the state government for his Budget Session address in the state Assembly, Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar on Friday said there is an “air of intolerance, bigotry and hatred” in the country.
“There is a general air of intolerance, bigotry and hatred that is straining the variegated thread of unity tying together all the linguistic, religious and ethnic diversities in the country,” he said in his customary speech before Budget Session.
By not deviating from the speech, he avoided another showdown with the state government. His speech reflected the TMC government’s policies and its stand on various issues from economy to citizenship to secularism.
In a break from the past, the state did not broadcast his speech for fear of possible deviation.
The Governor’s strained ties with the government raised speculation that he might follow Kerala Governor Arif Mohd Khan who had qualified his address with a disclaimer that he did not agree with the the portions of his speech.
The governor also spelt out the Mamata Banerjee government’s stand on the controversial issue of citizenship. “The state government is strongly against the division of people in the name of steps such as the National Population Register or National Register of Citizens or Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019. The West Bengal Legislative Assembly passed a resolution against NRC on August 6, 2019. It passed a resolution on January 27, 2020, urging the Central government to take steps for repeal of the CAA without any delay. The state government urges the Centre to not to undertake NRC exercise and immediately withdraw NPR exercise.”
Dhankhar’s speech also mentioned the economic slowdown.
“Hon’ble members, at present, our country is at a critical juncture. The basic values and principles held so dear by the founding fathers of the Constitution are under challenge. While the formation of a government in a democracy depends on numbers, the government should care about the security and sentiment of all sections. Spreading misinformation is the order of the day and rejection of all forms of dissent is the new fashion, in the name of patriotism. Centuries-old tradition of religious pluralism has been challenged by the tyranny of majoritarianism in the guise of democracy.”
After concluding his speech, he headed to Speaker Biman Banerjee’s room and held meeting with the chief minister for half an hour.
Later in the day, Dhankhar justified his speech and tweeted, “I delivered the address in the high traditions of the Constitution. I do hope all will pay due obeisance to the Constitution.”
He said, “This is the only way to serve the people and enhance democratic values. I urge those in authority to desist from methodology not sanctified by constitution.”
The Opposition slammed the TMC and Dhankhar, and claimed that they had a quid pro quo understanding. Opposition Leader from Congress Abdul Mannan said, “It’s clearly a case of match fixing, and reeks of a give and take policy. The Governor read out the speech because it took a soft stand on the Central Government.”
CPM’s House Leader Sujan Chakraborty said, “The Governor basically gave a Budget speech. There was no politics. The state government has double standards. Sometime, it shows black flags to him, and sometime, he is given a helicopter. They have a hidden agenda.”
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