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Saturday, Dec 07, 2019

Bengal Guv preps for 600 km road trip after Mamata govt declines chopper

The governor’s office said a request for use of helicopter was placed well in advance with the state government. But the request “has not found favourable consideration”, the Raj Bhavan statement said.

india Updated: Nov 14, 2019 22:11 IST
Tanmay Chatterjee
Tanmay Chatterjee
Hindustan Times, Kolkata
File photo of Bengal Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar. (Photo @jdhankhar1)
File photo of Bengal Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar. (Photo @jdhankhar1)

Bengal Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar will make a 600-km road trip to the border town of Murshidabad from Kolkata and back because the Bengal government has refused to let him use a chopper for an event, Raj Bhavan said in a statement.

Dhankhar had earlier accepted an invitation to be the chief guest at the silver jubilee celebrations of Prof Syed Nurul Hasan College on Friday. His office said a request for use of helicopter was placed well in advance with the state government. But the request “has not found favourable consideration”, the Raj Bhavan statement said.

The statement added that Raj Bhavan had brought the request for a chopper to the notice of Bengal chief secretary but hadn’t received a response so far.

“Keeping in view of the delay involved, a communication in the matter has already been sent by him to the Hon’ble CM but response to that is awaited,” the statement said.

The Raj Bhavan statement said the Dhankar, who will be traveling with his wife, would travel by road. “About 600 kms of journey in the same day is being taken by Governor Shri Dhankhar,” it said.

Junior health minister Chandrima Bhattacharya said the state wanted to know why the helicopter was required. “The chief minister went for an aerial survey of the cyclone affected areas because the situation demanded it,” said Chandrima Bhattacharya.

The inability of the state government to accept the governor’s request comes amid an escalating back-and-forth between the chief minister and governor. Mamata Banerjee has been visibly uncomfortable with the governor undertaking frequent field visits and holding meetings with officials.

Dhankhar paid a surprise visit to Singur on Monday, from where chief minister Mamata Banerjee led a land agitation forcing Tata Motors to withdraw its Nano car project in 2008. Dhankhar had to return to Kolkata after meeting some clerks because no official was present at the local block development office. The Trinamool also protested this field visit.

Governor Dhankhar hit back on Thursday, explaining that his visits to certain places had triggered political reactions probably because people wanted to hide the truth.

“If one visit of mine can trigger such curiosity then my heart feels like spending a long time in Singur and Nandigram. As governor of West Bengal, I need to know everything. You will often see that people try to hide what you want to see. If someone is trying to hide something I would like to see it,” he said in Hindi.

Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee responded sharply: “Some nominated persons are behaving too much. They should not supersede the Central government. I think Central government must take care of this.”

The face off comes 17 days after Dhankhar and his wife attended the Kali Puja at the chief minister’s residence, prompting speculation that the two dignitaries might be warming up to each other.

“We are not sure whether the Constitution sanctions such behavior by a governor. He is behaving more like a political person. This is very unfortunate. I think he is doing this on purpose,” said minister of state for health Chandrima Bhattacharya.

Dhankhar and TMC have been engaged in a war of words over a range of issues, with TMC saying that the governor has failed to maintain the sanctity of his office.

Singur is a sensitive issue for Mamata Banerjee. Considered the place of her political rebirth after the Nano project was withdrawn, the TMC faced its first setback in Singur when the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) got a lead in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. Singur is part of the Hooghly parliamentary seat, which the BJP won.