The war between West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee and governor Jagdeep Dhankhar saw opening of a new rift with the Trinamool Congress (TMC) government slamming the governor over content of his letter that were “not consistent with real facts". The reaction came after Dhankhar alleged that the CM has been silent over post-poll violence in the state and has not taken steps to rehabilitate and compensate the suffering people.
The governor wrote the letter hours before his departure to Delhi on a four-day visit. He sought interaction with the chief minister at the earliest on the issues flagged by him.
“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," Dhankhar wrote in the letter to Banerjee, a copy of which he shared on Twitter. “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," he alleged.
Replying to the strongly-worded letter, the Home Department of the West Bengal government, in a series of tweets, said the governor’s act of making the letter public was “violative of all established norms, and disrupts sanctity of such communications".
“The government of West Bengal has 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.
The department went on to say that the “unusual" step of going public in this manner “abruptly and unilaterally" has shocked the state government all the more because the “contents are fabricated".
“While the post-poll violence in the State was somewhat unabated when the Election Commission of India was in charge of the law and order machinery, after the swearing-in, the State Cabinet has reigned in the situation, restored normalcy, and established full command over anti-law elements. The state police have been firmly directed to bring to book all anti-socials and the Government remains committed to maintain the basic fabric of society and to uphold law and order."
Dhankhar, who has been at loggerheads with the Trinamool Congress government on several issues since taking over in July 2019, also accused the police and administration in the state of being partisan. The governor wrote that during his May 13-15 visit to Coochbehar, Nandigram and Ranpagli in Assam, he had listened to heartrending tales of sufferings of people for voting as per their choice in the West Bengal assembly elections.
The governor’s visit to these places had led to a war of words between him and the chief minister with Banerjee writing to him, claiming that his tour violates norms, while Dhankhar hit back saying he is discharging duties mandated by Constitution. The governor wrote that the chief minister had, in an unprecedented manner, on May 17 “spent six hours at the CBI office at Nizam Palace seeking release of the arrested persons".
Banerjee had gone to the CBI office soon after the arrest of two ministers in her cabinet — Subrata Mukherjee and Firhad Hakim, TMC MLA Madan Mitra and former Kolkata mayor Sovan Chatterjee in connection with the Narada sting tape case. The governor urged the chief minister to deliberate the issue of post-poll violence in the cabinet, take all steps to restore law and order and provide succour to the suffering people.
(with inputs from agencies)