- Bengal dealing with communal tension in town of Basirhat
- Governor insinuates Chief Minister favours one community
- Her party says he is "parrot", undermining her on behalf of BJP
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee was upbraided for the third day in a row by the state's Governor, who said she is obliged to "maintain peace without caste creed or community bias", referring to riots in a part of the North 24 Parganas, barely 60 kms from the state capital of Kolkata.
Ms Banerjee's minister Subrata Mukherjee responded by describing Governor Keshari Nath Tripathi a parrot to reassert its claim that he is working on behalf of the BJP to undermine her.
The hissing between the Governor and the Chief Minister comes as Basirhat and the areas around it remain tense, days after a Facebook post offensive to Muslims resulted in violence with mobs blocking main roads, railway tracks and torching vehicles.
Yesterday, Home Minister Rajnath Singh phoned both officials to ask them to make peace privately. His counsel was ignored nearly immediately, with Ms Banerjee's Trinamool Congress stating that it could not let Raj Bhavan, the Governor's residence, "turn into a BJP office".
Ms Banerjee and her party say that the Governor, appointed in 2014, has abandoned any pretense at the impartiality he is obliged to maintain to promote the BJP's agenda: faulting her for recurring tension in communally sensitive parts of the state.
Ms Banerjee says that in fact, it is the BJP and its ideological parent, the Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh or RSS, that are instigating Hindu-Muslim riots to create a space for themselves among Hindu voters in a state where the BJP has only just begun to see some support.
The BJP, on the other hand, says that Ms Banerjee's continued appeasement of Muslims - an important support group for her party - has emboldened rioters to believe they can act with impunity and that Hindus in the state are now turning to the BJP in the hope that it will protect their rights.
Basirhat and the areas around it are being patrolled by central paramilitary soldiers, who reached there yesterday. Though large clashes were prevented, peace is evasive. Bombs were thrown on roads and the arson continued.
"Who provoked this boy to put this post? They selected a juvenile, because they know he will get away with it," said Hassan Ahmed Imran, Rajya Sabha MP.
On Monday, the Governor asked Ms Banerjee to explain the situation; she then publicly accused him of insulting her and said his comments made her consider resigning. The Governor then issued a statement rebutting her complaints and said she had breached confidentiality by discussing their conversation with reporters.
Mr Tripathi has also said that Ms Banerjee is trying to "emotionally blackmail the people of Bengal".