Mamata govt rejects governor Dhankar’s suggestions for changes in his budget speech
The budget session of an Assembly starts with the governor’s speech, followed by the finance minister’s presentation of the budget proposals and its passage as the Finance Bill, which requires the governor’s prior approval.Updated: Feb 06, 2020, 23:11 IST
The budget session of West Bengal assembly on Friday will begin under the shadow of an unprecedented conflict over the governor’s opening speech, which the state government refused to change on Thursday evening, despite governor Jagdeep Dhankhar’s request.
“…the stand of the state government on the issue has been communicated to Raj Bhavan on the evening of February 6, 2020, and the government has taken the stand that the text of the address as already sent, is the final text,” governor’s press secretary Manab Bandyopadhyay said in a media statement issued on Thursday.
This development took place a few hours after Dhankhar had reiterated that he was within his rights to suggest changes in the budget speech that is prepared by the state cabinet.
“The government has full rights to put in the address all that they want. They can put in their policies, impressions, and ideas and indicate their achievements. I too, as the governor, the constitutional head of the state, have the right to make my own suggestions,” Dhankhar told journalists.
The budget session of an Assembly starts with the governor’s speech, followed by the finance minister’s presentation of the budget proposals and its passage as the Finance Bill, which requires the governor’s prior approval.
Dhankhar had first hinted on Wednesday that he was not in total agreement with the budget speech prepared by the government. “A draft of the (budget) address has been made available to me after approval of the state cabinet. That is under my consideration. If I will have an issue or would like to make an addition, I will do it in a formal manner,” he had said.
Biman Banerjee, the speaker of the Assembly, has said that anything that the governor may say beyond the written speech prepared and approved by the state cabinet will not be recorded in the proceedings of the House.
Criticising Dhankhar’s role in the episode, senior Trinamool Congress leader and minister Chandrima Bhattacharya said on Thursday, “The governor cannot ask the government to reveal the contents of the budget in advance. He is supposed to read out the speech as prepared by the cabinet”.
“Even the President does not interfere with the (union) budget. Is the governor’s position above that of the President? He should better stay within his constitutional limits,” Bhattacharya said.
The current face-off started last week on Monday when Dhankar sought several clarifications on the budget from finance minister Amit Mitra and parliamentary affairs minister Partha Chatterjee before signing the Finance Bill, said a senior minister in the state government.
On Tuesday, Mamata Banerjee had a telephonic conversation with Dhankhar, following which chief secretary Rajiva Sinha met him in the evening. According to a state minister, who did not want to be identified, the clarifications sought by the governor would have required revealing the contents of the budget in advance.
A similar stand-off between the Kerala governor and the state government was resolved after Arif Mohammed Khan decided to read out a paragraph containing criticism of the amended citizenship law in a policy speech he delivered on January 28 in the state assembly. Khan said he was reading out the paragraph only to honour Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan’s wish.