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Partha stirs debate on governor’s post

Bengal minister asks: Is it constitutional to insult the head of elected government?
Governor Dhankhar outside the Assembly on Tuesday.

Sandip Chowdhury   |   Calcutta   |   Published 27.11.19, 09:00 PM

Senior Trinamul leader Partha Chatterjee on Wednesday raised questions on the “very necessity” of governors in today’s India and sought a discussion on whether the post was needed anymore.

The Trinamul Congress leader’s speech during the Assembly’s two-day session to mark the Constitution Day made it clear that the Mamata Banerjee government was all set to amplify its protest against governor Jagdeep Dhankhar.

“It is high time to have a debate over the very need of the post of governor,” said Chatterjee.

Although the list of speakers for the two-day programme was drawn up to discuss the Indian Constitution and its relevance, today’s politics — both in the state and at the national level — took the centre stage in the discourse since Dhankhar’s address on Tuesday.

Unlike other speakers — like former Lok Sabha speaker Meira Kumar and ex-Bengal governor M.K. Narayanan, Dhankhar used the forum to talk about abrogation of Article 370 in Kashmir and praised Prime Minister Narendra Modi for it. The governor in his address on Tuesday also said the position of the “constitutional head of the state has been seriously compromised”.

The treasury bench members in the Assembly were also unhappy with the Raj Bhavan occupant since Tuesday evening as he walked past chief minister Mamata Banerjee, who was waiting to receive him, without acknowledging her presence.

Chatterjee didn’t mince his words when he rose to speak on Wednesday.

“Is it constitutional to insult the head of an elected government on the floor of the House? Is it constitutional to criticise the state government after getting invitation on an event?” he asked, referring to the governor’s apparent snub of Mamata.

“In last three years, the expenses of the Raj Bhavan have increased by 2.5 times. Time has come to ponder over the need for existence of the latsahebi post in today’s India,” the parliamentary affairs minister said.

Chatterjee pointed out that the discussion should also be initiated on whether an appointed head of a state could embarrass a popular government. According to him, any clash between the head of the state government and the governor — the Centre’s representative — is harmful for the development of the state and its people at large.

Recounting the debates led by former chief ministers Jyoti Basu and Siddhartha Shankar Ray in the House over Centre-state relationship, Chatterjee said: “Along with debates on centre-state relationship, there used to be questions on the purpose of the post of governors in independent India.”

Urban development minister Firhad Hakim said it was worrying to notice that the heads of states — the governors — going against the ethos of the Constitution. “Governors cannot behave like members of political parties. We have seen that heads of the states often defy the constitution and its articles and make selective choices,” Hakim said.

Dhankhar, however, stuck to his guns even on Wednesday as he kept tweeting about Tuesday’s programmes.

“The video on the Constitution Day would leave nothing to imagination as to what precedence is accorded to the Constitutional Head of State. Time to engage in introspection and not in disinformation,” he tweeted.

In another tweet, he tried to convey that he was open to engage with the chief minister while she remained aloof. 

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