There seems to be no let-up in the face-off between the West Bengal governor and the West Bengal government.
Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar today urged chief minister Mamata Banerjee to rein in her ministers who have, he said, called him a tourist, called his visit to Siliguri last month a gimmick and just yesterday criticised him for allegedly asking the Centre to replace the state police in his security detail with paramilitary forces.
At a press meet at Jadavpur University where he spent three hours as Chancellor discussing the list of luminaries to be honoured at the convocation in December, Mr Dhankhar was asked about reports that the Ministry of Home Affairs would replace his state police security detail with CRPF jawans.
Clearly prepared to for the question, the governor turned to his aide, glanced at some notes and attacked Subrata Mukherjee, Mamata Banerjee's panchayat minister who had yesterday said he had never heard of a governor feeling insecure and seeking paramilitary forces.
Mr Dhankhar said, "I will not discuss security issues but a senior minister of the government, Subrata Mukherjee has given a statement that any such issue should have been given to the state first. I would request him with folded hands please check up with your government. Was the issue flagged? It is not appropriate for a minister to just say anything in media that are factually wrong."
No other minister was named but Mr Dhankhar picked on several comments made since his arrival in West Bengal and said, "There have painful statements by ministers. One of them wants me to be a tourist. I am sure none of you here will approve that the governor should be a tourist."
"It was public statement. I thought some editorials will come on this. I can't be a tourist I am a governor. I have to do my constitutional duty," he continued, adding, "One of them called my visit to Siliguri a gimmick. I am surprised. How can a person holding position of a minister go to that level? Another one said it is demeaning conduct. But I leave it to the discretion of the honourable chief minister to deal with her ministers the way she wants."
That was not all. The governor tore into the ministers saying, "Constitutional functionaries cannot be loose cannons to the extent of the governor."
Mr Dhankhar was unsparing. He referred to the fiasco at the Durga Carnival on October 11 when he claimed he was "blacked out" from media coverage. "The media was restrained from showing me. Such a situation is alarming," he said.
The governor was at Jadavpur University to discuss the names proposed by the university for the award of honorary doctorates at its December convocation to eminent personalities. The four names on the university list are Shankho Ghosh, noted Bengali poet, Salman Haider, former foreign secretary, Sanghamitra Banerjee, Director of Indian Statistical Institute and Dr CNR Rao, scientist.
According to sources, the governor raised questions about the inclusion of Salman Haidar, foreign secretary from 1995 to 1997, and eminent diplomat. But with the entire university panel of about 50 university professors present at the meeting sticking to its guns, the governor agreed to the list.
"We have never had a chancellor interfere in who we decide to honour with doctorates," said one of the professors present at the meeting. "This was a first."
Mr Dhankhar, who came to Bengal as governor in July, has ruffled the state government with his comments on the Murshidabad triple murder, his "rescue" of Babul Supriyo, union minister, from aggressive students at Jadavpur University on September 19 and his angry reaction at being blacked out from media coverage at the carnival.
The Trinamool Congress too has gone on the offensive. When he complained about the carnival fiasco, Partha Chaterjee, minister, said, "Let him say what he wants. We don't have to react to everything he says."
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