Responding to West Bengal Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar’s whirlwind official tour to meet senior BJP ministers, including Amit Shah, and President Ram Nath Kovind in New Delhi, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Thursday said “speech is silver and silence is golden”.
Addressing a press conference at state secretariat ‘Nabanna’, Banerjee said, “It is not necessary to comment every time about him. Sometimes speech is silver and silence is golden.”
“They talk about violence… do you see any violence in Bengal? Some incidents happened during the election, but at that time, the Election Commission was in charge of the law and order situation in the state,” she added.
Without naming Governor Dhankhar or any central BJP leader, Banerjee said, “They should look at Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat where dead bodies are floating on the river and law and order situation is deteriorating every day.”
“They simply killed people during a mock drill of oxygen supply in a hospital (in UP). Instead of Bengal, they should send central teams and human rights teams to these states. They are shameless people because even after losing the elections, they are conspiring against Bengal and its people," she added.
“I don’t support violence and I have asked my police to take stern action against those who will try to break law and order in the state. The BJP is trying to create a perspective that the law and order situation in Bengal is bad. But it is not true. Whatever you are witnessing now (hinting at Dhankhar’s Delhi visit) is nothing but their (BJP leaders) gimmick. It is a part of their pre-planned move after facing a defeat in the poll,” the CM said.
Banerjee also said a “child can be cajoled into silence" but not an elderly man, noting that she has thrice written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi to withdraw him from the state.
“What can I say? A child can be cajoled into silence…," she said.
Asked about media reports suggesting that the governor might be removed, Banerjee said she is not aware of any such development. “How do I know? When a governor is appointed, the state government is consulted. That, however, was not done in this case… I have written twice or thrice to the Prime Minister seeking his withdrawal from the state," she said.
On Thursday, Governor Dhankhar met President Kovind and raised concerns over the post-poll violence. He also submitted a memorandum to the President and in the evening, he is scheduled to meet Union Home Minister Amit Shah.
On June 16, hours after Dhankhar’s meeting with Chairperson of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) Arun Mishra reportedly “to address post-poll violence” in the state, both the ruling Trinamool Congress (TMC) and the Left Front condemned the move and claimed it an “unprecedented act” by any constitutional head of a state.
The TMC said the Governor proved that he is a “BJP agent”.
“His act is condemnable and today he proved that he is a BJP agent. I don’t remember any BJP leader or minister meeting the NHRC chief in the recent past. But our Governor rushed to meet him. This only shows that he is not only crossing all limits, but also acting against the Indian Constitution. He should be removed immediately,” said TMC MP Sukhendu Shekhar Roy.
Left Front Chairman Biman Bose too denounced the move, saying, “Whatever he is doing nowadays cannot be a Governor’s act. He is crossing constitutional limits. He is acting as a man of the BJP.”
The latest standoff between Banerjee and Dhankhar intensified in the last few days after he alleged that the CM has been silent over post-poll violence in the state and has not taken steps to rehabilitate and compensate the victims.
He also wrote a letter to Basnerjee hours before his departure to Delhi on Tuesday night.
The letter read, “I am constrained to observe your continued silence and inaction over post-poll retributive bloodshed, violation of human rights, outrageous assault on dignity of women, wanton destruction of property, perpetuation of untold miseries on political opponents — worst since independence and it ill augurs for democracy.”
He further alleged, “Your studied silence, coupled with absence of any steps to engage in rehabilitation and compensation to alleviate the unimaginable suffering of people, force an inevitable conclusion that all this is state-driven.”
Responding to Dhankhar’s letter, the State Home Department, in a series of tweets, had said, “The Governor’s act of making his letter to CM public was violative and disrupts the sanctity of such official communications.”
“It was observed with dismay and distress that the Governor of West Bengal has suddenly made public a letter of his to the Chief Minister of West Bengal, with contents that are not consistent with real facts,” it said.
Centre trying to ‘bulldoze Twitter’
Meanwhile, Banerjee on Thursday condemned the Centre’s guidelines for Twitter and said they cannot control them, so they decided to bulldoze them.
Responding to a question during the press conference, Banerjee said, “It is unfortunate. They failed to control Twitter and, therefore, they are now trying to bulldoze them. They tried the same thing in Bengal. They tried to control me, but they failed and now they are trying to bulldoze me.”
Referring to the recent killing of journalist Sulabh Shrivastava in Pratapgarh district in Uttar Pradesh, she further said, “Similarly, they cannot control the journalists, so they kill them. I believe one day, this will come to an end. This will not go for long. I condemned whatever happened with Twitter.”
The standoff between Twitter and the Centre has been going on for the last few months and recently the microblogging platform lost its legal indemnity in India as, according to the government, it failed to comply with the new IT Rules.