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Governor has his weekend full

- Lunch and dinner with leaders keep patil busy

Calcutta, July 7: D.Y. Patil, the Bihar governor in additional charge of Bengal, seems to have his hands full with hosting ministers and leaders of the state’s ruling party.

Sources in the Calcutta Raj Bhavan said that on Sunday, Patil hosted a lunch for education minister and Trinamul secretary-general Partha Chatterjee in his suite. For dinner, he had the company of Trinamul all-India general secretary and MP Mukul Roy.

Raj Bhavan sources said that both the lunch and the dinner were organised at the insistence of the governor.

Although the governor had sent an invite to chief minister Mamata Banerjee for the dinner at Raj Bhavan, she could not make it because of “some prior engagements”.

A member of the Raj Bhavan staff said: “This was a private lunch and dinner that the governor hosted for two high-profile dignitaries in his suite. We don’t know much about it.”

Sources in the Patna Raj Bhavan said the burst of activity in his first weekend in Calcutta was in contrast with Patil’s schedule in Patna, where he keeps himself engaged in routine programmes. “I can’t recall the last time he invited senior leaders of the ruling party for lunch or dinner,” the Patna source said.

This morning, Patil left for Patna without specifying when he would return to Calcutta. “This is why no appointment has been given to anybody until he comes back,” a Raj Bhavan official here said.

Sources in the Raj Bhavan here said Patil had spent some time checking out the 27-acre campus, which has a built-up space of over 84,000sqft. “The governor took a walk in the sprawling Raj Bhavan garden and he was impressed,” said the source.

Built between 1799 and 1803 when the Marquess Wellesley was governor-general, the Calcutta Raj Bhavan was designed on the lines of Kedleston Hall in Derbyshire, the ancestral house of Lord Curzon who lived here as viceroy and governor-general.

While the governor’s official residence in Patna on Anne Marg — opposite the Bihar chief minister’s official address — is spacious, the Calcutta address is grander in history and size.

Till the Centre appoints a governor for Bengal, Patil may be expected to spend more time in Calcutta.

The governor’s office regularly forwards reports concerning the state’s law and order to the Centre and against this backdrop, Sunday’s lunch and dinner were significant.

The Congress seemed a bit miffed that Patil did not call representatives of the Opposition parties to Raj Bhavan. “It is unjust that the new governor first met the ruling party…. Had he been really interested in knowing the affairs of the state, he could have called representatives from the Opposition parties,” Pradip Bhattacharyya, Rajya Sabha MP and former state Congress president, said.

The lunch and dinner has surprised some Raj Bhavan staff as well because they could not recollect such a precedent.

When Gopal Krishna Gandhi left Raj Bhavan after resigning as Bengal governor on December 9, 2009, the then Bihar governor Devanand Konwar took charge from him and continued till M.K. Narayanan was appointed on January 24, 2010.

“But we cannot recall Konwar hosting lunch or dinner for any minister or then chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee,” said an elderly official in Raj Bhavan.