I’m Not An RSS Man Like Mamata Banerjee Says, But I Would Love To Be One: Jagdeep Dhankhar
File photo of Bengal Governor Jagdeep Dhankar.
Kolkata: Two of the foremost constitutional chairs in West Bengal, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar, aren’t quite seeing eye to eye. To lend a perspective of what went wrong between the two and if at all the fractures can be mended, Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar spoke to News18’s Sougata Mukhopadhyay in an exclusive interview.
This is the second and final part of that interview:
In your face-off with the chief minister, she says your chair is being “grossly misused”. What should the people of the state feel about this public acrimony?
If I say you are grossly misusing your office, you will ask me to give an instance. How come? I don’t delay your files and they are the black holes for my files. The result is that we have dying universities, which otherwise are very brilliant.
I wrote to her (Banerjee) two months ago saying we want a tag of eminence for Jadavpur University. I wish to take up the matter from where it remains stuck. Can you please give me an update about it? It has not happened. I thought she would give me that and include it for the Governor’s conference, at least.
I have been to nine districts. People in Murshidabad tell me: “Sir, madam chief minister ka helicopter toh land kar raha hai aur aap toh 350 km chal kar aaye hain (madam chief minister’s helicopter is landing and you have travelled by road for 350 km). And when I go to another place, they say, “Sir, ek mantri ji ka helicopter toh land kar raha hai, aap ko kyon nahi diya hai? (a minister is using a helicopter, why were you deprived?)”
The chief minister has given a public explanation to the controversy, saying the helicopter was not hers to give in the first place. It is used under a PPP model and the government has to also put in a prior requisition and so forth. Do you not accept that explanation?
I have been a Governor for four months -- how many times has the chief minister used the helicopter during this time? Just check up. And the excuse about (cyclone) Bulbul - she declined a helicopter to a non-descript region much before Bulbul.
What you are saying is not in my communication sent to me. Misinformation must end somewhere. If it continues beyond Bulbul, don’t think I will not react. Why don’t you find out how many time ministers have used the helicopter in the four months? And how many times was it used for Bulbul? I don’t know why such games are being played with a constitutional office.
A minister says I must learn to walk on the street like Didi. But if I do, there will be 20 others asking why I am walking. If I take a morning walk at Victoria Memorial or Rabindra Sarovar, even that becomes an issue. So if my breathing also becomes an issue, it is a problem.
Parliamentary Affairs minister Partha Chatterjee now questions even the necessity of a nominated post like that of a Governor in a democracy. How do you respond?
I would not react to it. But the founding fathers of the Constitution, very gifted and illustrious men, thought in their wisdom that a Governor is required. According to Chatterjee’s point of view, the post is needed to the extent that the Governor can be a tourist. I am surprised that if the chief minister can control the entire flock in the government and the party on Ayodhya [judgment] and then observe silence, why can’t they do it for the Governor? Which means they are let loose.
Mamata Banerjee calls you an RSS man.
I am not an RSS man. But I have no hesitation in saying I would be happy to be one.
Because they [RSS] believe in nationalism. It is one of the greatest organisations the world has ever seen. And I think there is a void in my life that I am not an RSS man. But her accusation of this fact is wrong. That should not have happened.
Having a void for not being in the RSS is a strong feeling.
If you learn a little too late in life that there was something very sublime, something very inspiring, motivational and you missed it… and the chief minister says my speech, she will have to read it. She says that I was more bothered about Kashmir than Bengal. Let me say, Madam Chief Minister is not right. Again you are not right.
I am sure you realise this friction between your office and that of the chief minister is bound to give rise to administrative nightmares. How would you allay the apprehensions of government servants caught in between?
There is no friction from my side. For the simple reason that if a file comes to me, I deal with it and return it. If I send a file or a letter to them, it goes into their black hole. So they should be asked the question. But I am comfortable.
The government has taken two steps and I disagree with both. One, I can go to a place only after getting their sanction. I don’t agree. I will go to every nook and corner. That is the mandate given to us. For the state, I am constitutionally obligated and I will do it.
Second, if I send a communication that I am visiting a certain district and I want an interaction with the government servants, they say we will send invites only after the state government clears it. Can any sane person agree to this? This is unheard of and undemocratic. We are living in a democratic country. If the constitutional head has to suffer such a scenario, I am sure there must be need for introspection.
It’s been four months since you assumed the chair. How do you set yourself apart from your predecessors? Is there a legacy you want to create and leave behind?
I do nothing for myself. I am a copybook Governor. If any journalist, politician, minister or the chief minister can show me that I have taken any step beyond the ‘laxman rekha’ of the Constitution, I would be happy to deal with it. I would vindicate the oath I have taken. I would work tirelessly in that direction. And I would reenergise my efforts to ensure that me and the chief minister are on the same page. She is an experienced person. I am sure she will have the occasion to introspect and be dispassionate about them.
Are you even hopeful that this relationship between you and the chief minister would mend?
I am sure it will mend, given her experience and my efforts. I have not reacted to a song she has sung in the Assembly (referring to Banerjee’s reference of the film song ‘Tu Cheez Badi Hai Mast Mast’ in her Assembly speech).
That has been expunged...
But it has been reported in the media. Expunged is fine, but if it is reported a lot many people have indicated it to me. So I tweeted about it. But imagine if I were to say so. Our relationship will be very good if the media manages and picks up an intrepid approach to ask her these questions also. The events of November 26 will show that I was in the platinum zone of courtesy. And look at the chief minister. She is an experienced person, I am sure she did it for a reason. But if that is her USP, that she chooses to ignore someone and I will take a subservient route, Jagdeep Dhankhar will, but Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar will not.