Bengal governor accuses TMC women legislators of misbehaving with him in assembly
KOLKATA: West Bengal governor Jagdeep Dhankhar on Tuesday accused 6 women ministers and 9 women legislators of the ruling Trinamool Congress (TMC) of obstructing his movement and behaving inappropriately with him during a ruckus that rocked the inauguration of the state assembly’s budget session on Monday.
Dhankhar has levelled the allegations against the TMC women legislators in a letter he wrote to assembly speaker Biman Banerjee, asking the latter to meet him and fix responsibility for the unruly scenes in the state assembly.
Leader of the opposition in the assembly, Suvendu Adhikari, said on Monday that he and the other Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) legislators staged the hour-long agitation solely to prevent the governor from reading out this speech because it was prepared by the state government.
Dhankhar’s letter, which was distributed among members of the media on Tuesday evening, did not hold the opposition responsible for the alleged chaos. “There is acceptable mechanism of engaging in protest. Opposition was protesting from the beginning…” it said.
The governor left the assembly house without delivering the entire speech. He read out a few lines and tabled it, which, according to parliamentary rules, marked the official inauguration.
Dhankhar had earlier insisted on having his speech telecast live on local news channels but this was not cleared by the speaker.
“The governor probably had some hesitation. Maybe he was under pressure to not read the speech. I don’t know if there is a connection…” chief minister Mamata Banerjee said on Monday after the governor left, hinting that the BJP’s agitation was planned to help Dhankhar.
Dhankhar’s letter also accused parliamentary affairs minister Partha Chatterjee of contributing to the disorder but made only a passing reference to the noisy protests by the BJP.
“There is acceptable mechanism of engaging in protest. Opposition was protesting from the beginning. How ironical that the treasury benches, principal stakeholder in the address the governor, were also in overdrive to contribute to “disorder” in the House that was already witnessing unruly Opposition protests,” the letter said.
“In this alarming scenario faced chaotic scenes with the ruling party ministers/MLAs virtually subjecting governor to “gherao” and in the process also made him suffer unprintable indigestible invectives. Indeed unusual that the ruling party will so stall the proceedings,” the letter said.
“Sanctity of the temple of democracy was outraged as never before in the state. This calls for, apart from introspection, exemplary actions, at our end in togetherness, so that democratic values do not get so demeaned, capsized and trampled,” the letter addressed to the speaker said.
“Decorum and propriety nosedived to lowest nadir when in an unprecedented manner, obviously strategized, ruling party women ministers Chandrima Bhattacharya, Shashi Panja, Seuli Saha, Yeasmin Sabina, Jyotsna Mandi and Birbaha Hansda and MLAs Sabitri Mitra, Ratna Chatterjee, Usha Rani Mondal, Arundhuti Maitra, Asima Patra, Nayna Bandopadhyay, Bina Mondal, Manju Basu and Rahima Mondal, in unison, trooped both sides around the seat of the governor, physically secured inconvenient proximity with the governor in a determined bid to have their “way”. Their actions, in close proximity of the governor, left much to be desired. One can only imagine the hyper sensitivity of the situation generated by their unrelenting stance,” wrote Dhankhar.
The letter was sent hours after Mamata Banerjee said at an organizational meeting of the TMC that the women legislators were verbally abused by BJP MLAs while they were pleading to the governor to read out at least a few lines from the speech and table it.
“Our women members saved the day while the BJP MLAs were behaving in the most uncivilized manner,” the chief minister said at the TMC meeting on Tuesday afternoon.
Reacting to Dhankhar’s letter, TMC state general secretary Kunal Ghosh said: “The governor shot the letter to divert attention from the BJP MLAs who verbally abused our women legislators in his presence. The unruly scenes staged by the BJP was part of a strategy which the governor was privy to. The BJP wanted him to leave without tabling the speech so that it would lead to a constitutional crisis. Our women MLAs prevented that.”
“If the governor wants an investigation, then we will request the speaker to allow a reconstruction of Monday’s events with Dhankhar present exactly where he was,” Ghosh added.