Mamata and Narayanan at Nabanna. Picture by Sanat Kr Sinha
Halt! Who goes there?
OMG! It’s the governor and it must be President’s rule then! Raise the red flag, raise the red flag.
But chief minister Mamata Banerjee, the fearsome upholder of all matters federal, chose to roll out a “red-letter-day” carpet at Nabanna today.
Mamata was right. Thursday was an uncommon day as M.K. Narayanan departed from the accepted wisdom that governors stride into state secretariats only after the much-hated President’s rule is declared.
Having etched an appropriate red-letter day on a day the state government was releasing its administrative calendar, the governor served up humorous bites. He also got to nibble at idli and dosa, although it is not known if they matched the taste of Kerala.
“This is unique because no governor visits the state secretariat when an elected government is in place. Governors usually visit state secretariats when there is President’s rule,” Narayanan said at Nabanna to peels of laughter from the audience after launching the administrative calendar.
After a tour of the 14th floor of Nabanna, the Howrah high-rise where a part of the state secretariat shifted on October 5 because of renovation work at Writers’ Buildings, the governor heaped praise on the government.
“It is really tough to believe that this building was converted into a full-fledged state secretariat within 45 days. This gives a sense that work culture in Bengal has indeed changed,” a senior official quoted Narayanan as saying.
In a Facebook post tonight, the chief minister termed the governor’s visit to Nabanna “unprecedented” and “historic”. “…a red-letter day for our State Government,” the post added.
Mamata, chief secretary Sanjay Mitra, home secretary Basudeb Banerjee and other senior officials accompanied the governor while he took a look around the 14th floor, where the chief minister’s chamber is located.
Narayanan spent around an hour there after launching the calendar on a dais in the parking lot of Nabanna, a few steps from the building. Ministers, officials and common people attended the programme.
The governor, according to senior officials, visited the chief minister’s conference room and the chambers of top officials of the chief minister’s office. “He observed the office arrangements and interiors with interest. He looked satisfied,” an official said.
After visiting all other offices on the floor, Narayanan entered the chief minister’s chamber, where he was offered the refreshments.
Some photo journalists were allegedly beaten up by police during the launch of the administrative calendar.
When Narayanan was leaving Nabanna, some journalists complained to him about the police’s “highhandedness”. The governor told the chief secretary and the Calcutta police commissioner to look into the matter.