Bengal govt-Raj Bhavan spat: Come to Raj Bhavan, end impasse, Dhankhar tells Mamata
Bengal governor Jagdeep Dhankhar on Thursday made a frantic attempt to end the stalemate between Raj Bhawan and the chief minister’s office, more than two weeks since Mamata Banerjee blocked him on Twitter and refused answers to any queries raised by the governor.
“Dialogue, discussion and deliberation, particularly amongst constitutional functionaries like the chief minister and the Governor are quintessential to democracy and inseparable part of constitutional governance,” the Governor wrote in a letter, which he later tweeted.
WB Guv:— Governor West Bengal Jagdeep Dhankhar (@jdhankhar1) February 17, 2022
Impressed upon Hon’ble CM Mamata Banerjee that “Dialogue, discussion and deliberation, particularly amongst constitutional functionaries, like the Chief Minister and the Governor, are quintessential to democracy and inseparable part of constitutional governance.” 2/2
In the tweet, Dhankhar requested the chief minister to visit Raj Bhavan any time in the remaining days of the week for an interaction “as lack of response to issues flagged has potential to lead to constitutional stalemate which we both are ordained by our oath to avert.”
“There has been no response now for long to issues legitimately flagged and in respect of which there is constitutional duty at your end under Article 167 of the Constitution to impart information,” Dhankhar wrote.
Article 167 is similar to Article 78 which refers to the duties of the Prime Minister to keep the President informed on decisions of administration and legislation.
Article 167 states that it is the chief minister’s duty to keep the Governor informed about legislative and administrative decisions. The chief minister is also required to furnish to the governor all information in these matter as may be called for. In case, a decision has been taken by a sole minister, at the governor’s discretion the matter may be placed before the council of ministers.
Former leader of the Opposition and Congress veteran Abdul Mannan reminded the chief minister that Raj Bhavan was her go to place during the Left Front rule.
“During the Nandigram movement, then governor Gopal Krishna Gandhi even went to one of the makeshift dais's where she was on a hunger strike… She has been provoking the governor for a long time. She wouldn’t allow the governor to summon or address the House,” Mannan said. “Now what she will do is up to her."
CPM central committee member Sujan Chakraborty, however, feels the governor should not take to Twitter to express his views.
“A state government is run in the name of the governor. It is the government’s duty to apprise the governor of decisions and legislations. Now the government is refusing to answer the governor’s queries. Officers are instructed not to meet the governor. Differences between the Raj Bhavan and the secretariat has beeen reduced to a public spat. This should not have happened,” said Chakraborty.
More than two weeks ago, Mamata announced she had blocked Dhankhar on Twitter, and also rolled out do’s and don’t’s of a governor.
“Policy decision is the government’s responsibility, not his. He will inaugurate the Assembly sessions, garland Ambedkar’s statue, give brief speeches..., if Bills are sent to him to be signed, first time he can clarify any doubts, next time he has to sign it. That is all he has to do,” said Mamata.
The governor in a programme at the Assembly in the presence of Speaker Biman Banerjee had questioned why the state government and its officers did not respond to questions raised by him.
In recent times, the governor had raised objections on the appointments of vice-chancellors in 24 Universities across the state. He had also been critical of the ruling Trinamul’s approach to post-poll violence.
During the long stint of the Left Front, the appointment of a vice-chancellor had turned into a flash-point between the government and Raj Bhavan incumbent A.P. Sharma. Sharma, acting within his constitutional privilege, had overruled the state government’s recommendation and appointed Santosh Bhattacharya as vice-chancellor of Calcutta University.
The result was a public boycott of all events attended by the governor, led by the chief minister Jyoti Basu. There have been other governors too who had fallen foul but a complete breakdown of communication was avoided.