Bengal Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar said today that he felt "humiliated, deeply pained and disturbed" after attending a Durga Puja carnival hosted last week by Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, where he was not seated at the main dais and was not shown on TV "for even a second".
The Governor is said to be upset that he was seated on a different dais while the limelight was on a stage featuring Mamata Banerjee and various dignitaries at the event on Friday to showcase the top 70 community puja pandals. From the corner dais, the governor reportedly didn't have a good view either. Speaking to reporters, he complained that though he spent four hours watching the carnival from beginning to end, he was not shown even once on the multi-camera footage that was beamed out by a government-appointed agency.
"I felt insulted at the carnival. I am deeply hurt and disturbed. The insult was not to me but to every people of West Bengal. They will never digest such as insult. I am a servant of the people of West Bengal. Nothing can deter me from performing my constitutional duties," Mr Dhankhar said, commenting that it had taken him three days to recover from the affront.
His voice quaking, the Governor said he was "speaking out of my injured heart" and could even cry.
"For four hours or more I was there and your press coverage was totally blacked out... This is unheard of. You will never find it anywhere else. Someone told me it was reminiscent of the Emergency," Mr Dhankhar said.
"Not for a second was the first servant shown on TV. What happened has put me to shame because no person in Bengal will approve of it."
Mr Dhankhar did not name anyone but left little doubt that the Mamata Banerjee-led state government had shown him great discourtesy.
He called it a painful moment of his life. "I will be there despite the insult because I have to recognize the talent of the people of West Bengal. I have to suffer for them, I will suffer. If I have to suffer more insults, more affronts...This bad taste in my mouth has been created by people who perhaps do not have the mindset and the large heart that people of West Bengal have...I appreciate this discourteous approach by the government for the first servant. I'm sure they'll do soul searching and make amends."
The Governor's ties with the Trinamool Congress have been far from friendly, especially after his open criticism of the state government as well as Mamata Banerjee.
Weeks ago, Mr Dhankhar had rushed in his car to the Jadavpur University and plunged into a dramatic row over the visit of Union Minister Babul Supriyo, who was manhandled and pushed by students and not allowed to enter. The Governor drove in and brought Mr Supriyo out of the chaos.
The state government accused him of jumping in without informing anyone to escalate the political drama.
Last week, the Governor again stepped in and appeared to goad the Trinamool government to act after a triple murder in Murshidabad that the BJP alleged had political links. The Trinamool, in response, accused Mr Dhankhar of crossing constitutional lines. The state police today said the murders were committed over a financial dispute and had nothing to do with politics.