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Mamata Banerjee’s bete noire, Jagdeep Dhankhar began political innings on Janata, Cong ticket

Having represented Kishangarh in the Assembly from 1993 to 1998, Dhankhar, a graduate from University of Rajasthan, Jaipur, who completed LLB degree in 1978-79, is also a former president of Rajasthan High Court Bar Association.

CM Mamata Banerjee with Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar at West Bengal assembly. (Express Photo by by Partha Paul)

For a leader known more for his run-ins with the Mamata Banerjee government in West Bengal as the state’s Governor, and whom the Trinamool Congress has often accused of acting as an “agent of BJP”, the first election Jagdeep Dhankhar contested was on a Janata Dal ticket, when he was elected to Lok Sabha from Jhunjhunu, Rajasthan.

His next election was for Rajasthan Vidhan Sabha — this time on a Congress ticket. Having represented Kishangarh in the Assembly from 1993 to 1998, Dhankhar, a graduate from University of Rajasthan, Jaipur, who completed LLB degree in 1978-79, is also a former president of Rajasthan High Court Bar Association.

“From 1998, he was a full-time senior advocate practising in Supreme Court — until he was appointed the Governor of West Bengal in 2019,” says younger brother Randeep Dhankhar.

Born into a farmer’s family at Kithana village in Jhunjhunu district in 1951, Dhankhar studied at a local government school before going to Sainik school in Chittorgarh. He is married to Sudesh Dhankhar and they have a daughter, Kamna.

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Since July 2019, Dhankhar has been almost a one-man opposition in Bengal, having taken on the TMC government regularly over various issues. In fact, such acrimonious has been the relationship that Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee even blocked Dhankhar on social media.

From law and order situation in the state to post-poll violence, and from corruption charges to lapses in bureaucracy, the Governor was never short of issues to criticise the government.

His relation with Assembly Speaker Biman Banerjee was no less bitter — last year, Biman Banerjee complained to President Ram Nath Kovind against Dhankhar for allegedly interfering in matters of the state government. Dhankhar, in turn, criticised the Speaker for stopping video coverage of his speech in the House, and even closing the Assembly gates on one occasion to deny him entry.

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The relation between Dhankhar and the TMC government took a turn for the worse when the state decided to replace the Governor with the CM as Chancellor of state universities. The Assembly passed The West Bengal University Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2022, on June 13. A day later, The West Bengal Private University Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2022 was passed — to appoint the state Education Minister as Visitor of private universities in the state.

Both Bills are pending with the Governor for approval.

While TMC has accused Dhankhar of not clearing Bills and creating “unnecessary hurdles” in functioning of the state government, the latter claims he has gone by the book and the Constitution in pointing out issues to the government and the state legislature.

Dhankhar has often sought details, especially details of expenditure, from the state government on various issues.

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According to the Raj Bhavan website, Dhankhar is an avid reader, a sports aficionado — he has been president of the Rajasthan Olympic Association and Rajasthan Tennis Association — and loves travelling with his family.

First published on: 16-07-2022 at 09:19:33 pm
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