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Home / India News / In Bengal Covid-19 crisis, guv Dhankhar and CM Mamata caught in letter wars

In Bengal Covid-19 crisis, guv Dhankhar and CM Mamata caught in letter wars

The governor was scathing in his appraisal of the chief minister’s actions during the Covid-19 pandemic.

india Updated: Apr 24, 2020 17:18 IST
Snigdhendu Bhattacharya
Snigdhendu Bhattacharya
Hindustan Times, Kolkata
File photo of CM Mamata Banerjee and governor Jagdeep Dhankhar. (HT Photo)
File photo of CM Mamata Banerjee and governor Jagdeep Dhankhar. (HT Photo)

Firing another salvo, Bengal governor Jagdeep Dhankhar on Friday accused chief minister Mamata Banerjee of “abject failure” in dealing with the situation over Covid-19 and appeasing the minority community.

This was his second response to Mamata Banerjee’s letter to him on Thursday that accused the governor of violating “constitutional dharma”.

“I can figure out that your entire strategy is crafted to deliberately divert people’s attention from your abject failure in combating and containing coronavirus in West Bengal. Your appeasement of the minority community was so explicit and awkward that as regards a question about the Nizamuddin Markaz incident by a journalist, your reaction was “Do not ask communal questions.” This is most unfortunate and cannot be appreciated,” Dhankhar wrote in his letter to the chief minister on Friday.

“Ours is the only state where central teams whose only role is affirmative and in aid of the State, are made to face unwholesome scenario. In all other states, it was seamless. Your cover-up “mechanism” would lead to very painful results. Banning of mobile phones inside Isolation Wards is a case in point. Time to reveal the real picture so that our fight against the coronavirus may be enhanced and sharpened,” wrote the governor.

The governor was scathing in his appraisal of the chief minister’s actions during the pandemic.

“Your communication is part of “alibi strategy”. It emanates from a script that seeks to cover up ‘monumental failures’ in these challenging times by series of ‘blunders’ while people of the state are suffering untold miseries, media is muzzled, health warriors are stressed and there is virtual suspension of human rights of those not belonging to your party. Emasculation of the administration and police has reached pinnacle as a consequence of their politicisation,” he wrote.

Banerjee, in her letter, had accused the governor of directly attacking the chief minister and the ministers in her cabinet, holding press conferences against the state government of which he himself is the Constitutional head and alleged that one of Dhankhar’s text messages to her was “unprecedented in tone, tenor and language.”

“I firmly disown your accusations,” Dhankhar wrote on Friday, adding that the allegations were “bereft of any factual premise.”

Following a series of social media responses from the governor criticising the state government on various grounds, Banerjee had written to Dhankhar, “You appear to have forgotten that I am an elected chief minister of a proud Indian state. You also seem to have forgotten that you are a nominated Governor.”

“You may continue to ignore all advice and inputs given by me and my council of ministers (as you appear to have taken upon yourself to do since the day of your appointment), but at least you should not ignore the wise words of Babasaheb Ambedkar in the Constituent Assembly,,” Banerjee wrote.

Late that night, in his first response to the chief minister, Dhankhar had written, “Your constant refrain of the governor being ‘nominated’ is lamentable and can be ascribed only to elementary ignorance of the Constitution” and that “I need to indicate firmly that there has been total failure at your end all through as regards compliance of constitutional prescriptions.”

In his Friday letter, Dhankhar wrote, “There are Constitutional prescriptions for you that mandate discharge of obligations through the Governor. There has been consistency at your end in complete disregard of the same, to my great dismay.”

Dhankhar even criticised the way CM Banerjee has been travelling across Kolkata over the past few days and using microphones to urge people to stay indoors.

“As an escape route you thought of being in your favourite pastime of being in ‘accusatory mode’ and taking to streets. Let me indicate in times of such gigantic crisis ‘street fighter approach’ is counterproductive and has the potential to spell disaster for the people,” Dhankhar wrote on Friday.

“Please ask those who may pick courage to show the mirror- how sagacious is it for CM to take mike and broom day after day in this grim situation. Real time action and effective governance is need of the hour - not theatrics or politicking,” he wrote.

This war of words is taking place amid a raging battle between the Centre and the state over the visit of two inter-ministerial central teams. The team for south Bengal is to visit four hotspot districts in the ‘red zone’ and the one for north Bengal is to visit three districts in the ‘orange zone.’

The central teams’ arrival in the state initially triggered a controversy with the state government criticising Centre’s decision to send these teams as ‘unilateral’ and ‘undesirable’.

However, the state administration started cooperating with the central teams after a strongly worded letter from the Union home ministry. The letter warned the state that obstructing the central team amounted to violation of the Disaster Management Act and orders of the Supreme Court. The teams have started making visits from Wednesday.

However, Bengal chief secretary Rajiva Sinha, on Thursday too, questioned the Centre’s motive behind sending these teams. He said, “West Bengal stands on 12th position in the country as far as Coronavirus is concerned. Of the 11 states placed above us, Central teams visited only three. I cannot understand the logic behind this. What is the big violation here? We are following all protocols.”

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