After the departure of now Vice President Jagdeep Dhankar, the Bengal BJP is missing an ally in the Raj Bhavan. Former Governor Dhankar had been accused of overstepping his role by the ruling Trinamool Congress, and the current Governor, La. Ganesan Iyer is on cordial terms with the Chief Minister and had even invited Mamata Banerjee to his brother's birthday event in Chennai, which she attended. Yesterday, Leader of Opposition Suvendu Adhikari seemed frustrated after marching to the Raj Bhavan and finding that the Governor was not in town.
Suvendu Adhikari was unhappy the Governor was not present to receive the BJP delegation on Monday, something the party was used to during Mr Dhankar's tenure in the Raj Bhavan in Kolkata. Jagdeep Dhankar, before he became the Vice-President of India, had often clashed with the Mamata Banerjee government, and regularly received BJP delegations on several political issues. He had often amplified the party's complaints through the Raj Bhavan.
Suvendu Adhikari told reporters he had not come with an appeal but a demand, and was not interested in having tea with the Governor's Secretary. Speaking to reporters, Mr Adhikari said, "Even 72 hours after his comments, the Chief Minister has not recommended his sacking to the Governor, and she has not even asked him to resign. We had emailed the Governor on Saturday. We have come to the Raj Bhavan with a demand. This is not an appeal. There is enough scope in the Constitution for him to advise the Chief Minister to sack the minister, whether he is in Delhi, Imphal, or Chennai. How he does it is his matter."
"We have written this here. We have not come to the Raj Bhavan to have tea with his Secretary. Our message needs to reach the Governor, and that is why we came here to say this," he added.
BJP legislators on Monday wanted to submit a memorandum to the Governor to advise Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee to sack minister Akhil Giri for his comments on the President.
BJP MLA Agnimitra Paul told reporters that they were disheartened to know from Suvendu Adhikari that he has been asking for an appointment from the Governor for the last three days.
"We wanted the Hon'ble governor to put pressure from the Raj Bhavan and expel Akhil Giri. But it is very unfortunate that from the Raj Bhavan, the Governor's office, we did not get an appointment. We were 70 BJP MLAs and a LoP, looking for an appointment, and he hasn't been giving it to us. So, we feel that he is being wrongly informed, this Secretary called Nandini Madam, probably she is acting as an ambassador of the TMC and trying to control the Governor, but we will not let that happen," Mr Paul added.
When asked if the BJP missed Mr Dhankar, Agnimitra Paul said, "Jagdeep Dhankar ji was not only Governor of West Bengal, but he was our guardian. Like an 'Abhibhavak'. He used to advise us, he used to criticise us, he used to scold us, he used to love us and not only us, but he was like that with everybody so yes, he was like part of the family. We miss him."
Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee hit back at Mr Adhikari and said he will "become zero" without his powerful connections in Delhi. Targeting Mr Adhikari, she said, "One day, such politicians will become zero, if they continue dissing Bengal. We have ranked among the top states when it comes to implementing these schemes, be it 100 days' work scheme, or Grameen Sadak Yojana or Bangla Awas Yojana. The opposition leader, who keeps showing-off his power connection with Delhi, is not realising that today he might have power, tomorrow he won't. We will then see where he lands up."
The Left has also accused Governors of being political pawns of the Centre, especially in states like Kerala where it is in power, and is calling for the abolition of the Governor's office.
CPI(M) leader Md. Salim told NDTV, "A Governor is nothing but an agent of the central government. The government of the day. And here the BJP leaders of the state, any Tom, Dick and Harry, they think the Governor's house is their ancestral property because the Home Minister appoints the Governor."
The sedate role of the Raj Bhavan in Bengal politics after the departure of Jagdeep Dhankar from Kolkata has not been lost on anyone but the BJP is now waiting for a permanent appointment as the Governor's office is key to exerting pressure on the Mamata Banerjee government. But whether the next Governor will be as aggressive towards state governments, as Arif Mohammad Khan or Jagdeep Dhankar, resulting in tussles like Tamil Nadu, Kerala, and Telangana, is not yet clear.