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Tuesday, Dec 10, 2019

Bengal Governor, govt head for second row over helicopter ride in five days

The Governor had sought a helicopter to travel to Murshidabad, 500 km away to inaugurate a new building of a girls’ college.

india Updated: Nov 20, 2019 00:09 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan times, Kolkata
Relations between Mamata Banerjee’s government and Bengal Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar have been uneasy.
Relations between Mamata Banerjee’s government and Bengal Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar have been uneasy.(HT Photo)

West Bengal governor Jagdeep Dhankhar and the Mamata Banerjee government appeared heading for another row over a helicopter ride after Raj Bhawan issued a statement on Tuesday evening, stating that the governor would not be provided with a chopper for his travel to Murshidabad district on Wednesday.

On November 15, Dhankhar had expressed his anguish to the media when he had to cover 600 km in his car between Kolkata and Farakka in Murshidabad, where he had gone to attend the silver jubilee celebration of Farakka Syed Nurul Hasan College.

A day before that, Mamata Banerjee indirectly accused Dhankhar of acting like a mouthpiece of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) but did not take his name. The governor reacted by saying that the state administration never officially told him that he was acting beyond his rights. In her comments, Banerjee also accused the governor of trying to run a parallel administration, a charge Dhankhar denied.

The acrimony started soon after Dhankhar sought to meet bureaucrats and people’s representatives during his district visits and made public statements on a range of issues.

In its statement on Tuesday, Raj Bhawan said that Dhankhar would be leaving Kolkata at 6 am on Wednesday to inaugurate a newly constructed building of Domkal Girls’ College in Murshidabad.

“There was a request made to the state government to provide helicopter for this visit, which involves a travel of about 500 kms either way. However, the response from the state government has been that the helicopter would not be available and in that situation, the governor will be visiting the place by road,” the statement said.

“The governor’s fleet of cars is maintained by the state government. The drivers and staff are on the payroll of the state. The state usually responds to requests for helicopters if it has one to spare. Former governor Keshari Nath Tripathi was given a helicopter when he visited some storm affected areas. Before him, governor Gopal Krishna Gandhi was also given one during a trip,” a senior Raj Bhawan official told HT on condition of anonymity.

Two senior members of the state cabinet refused to react to Tuesday’s development.

On Monday, Trinamool Congress raised the issue in the Rajya Sabha on the first day of the winter session, alleging that the governor was overstepping his limits and playing a political role.

“If the governor wants to do politics, he is free to do so. But he must come out of Raj Bhawan. From Rajyapal he has become Rajnitipal,” TMC member Sukhendu Sekhar Ray said in the Upper House.

Dhankhar who was in Siliguri on Monday said at a press conference, “I am clear in my mind and conscience that I have acted only as per the Constitution and I will fearlessly act as per the Constitution. If someone thinks I am a tourist here, Sir I am not.”