Bengal Governor CV Ananda Bose's first address to the Legislative Assembly on Wednesday was met with disruption by BJP MLAs, who shouted slogans and tore up copies of the speech handed to MLAs and finally staged a walkout. The attempts to disrupt the speech was led by the Leader of the Opposition Suvendu Adhikari, who claimed the Governor was toeing the line of the state government.
According to constitutional traditions, the speech of a Governor or President in assembly or parliament is usually written by the government and their offices have little role in it. But the state BJP wants the Governor to adopt the practices of his predecessor Jagdeep Dhankhar -- now the Vice-President -- who often took on the state government, leading to accusations of overstepping boundaries from the Trinamool Congress.
Denying that the BJP members had walked out, Suvendu Adhikari said they protested only when the Governor "started speaking against the central government".
"You will see the speech is against the Union government... Instead of mentioning the realities of the state, he has read out the speech written out by Mamata Banerjee," he said. Mr Adhikari, however, said they would "not hold the Governor responsible" since he "followed the path" shown by Mamata Banerjee.
The state BJP has been hugely upset with the Governor after he praised Mamata Banerjee at a recent function where she received a D. Litt degree from Kolkata's St. Xavier's University.
"We had the poet AB Vajpayee, in whose team Mamata Banerjee was also a distinguished member... We also have Winston Churchill, and we have Milton. Milton is now known as the author of Paradise Lost and Paradise Regained but back then, he was a statesman in charge of the Commonwealth Affairs. We are very glad, as people of West Bengal, in this distinguished league we have none other than Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee," the Governor had said at the event.
The state BJP has been on the offensive since. "The manner in which the Chief Minister has been compared to Sarvapalli Radhakrishnan, Atal Bihari Vajpayee and APJ Abdul Kalam is an insult to these personalities," BJP MLA Manoj Tigga told NDTV.
"If there is a law-and-order issue or corruption or the state government is taking unconstitutional steps, it is the Governor's responsibility to point out mistakes just as former Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar did," he added.
"The earlier Governor allowed the BJP to use his office as BJP office," countered the state's Parliamentary Affairs Minister Sobhandeb Chattopadhyay. "This is a sane, educated, highly qualified and experienced man. He knows what is the ambit of a Governor and he is working according to that. He has the authority and liberty to say anything about the Chief Minister if he feels so," he added.
"It is very unfortunate because the President of India, governors, judges -- they are constitutional posts. We can't raise slogans against them. It is unconstitutional," senior Cabinet Minister Firhad Hakim told reporters. "Unfortunately, the Leader of the Opposition and the Opposition does not know what is constitutional. They are all hooligans," he added.
The BJP's central leadership has so far ignored the outburst of its state leaders.