‘Not a tourist here’, says Bengal governor as TMC flags ‘overstepping’ in RS
Amid growing acrimony between West Bengal governor Jagdeep Dhankhar and the ruling Trinamool Congress (TMC), the party on Monday raised the issue in the Rajya Sabha on the first day of the winter session of Parliament, 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 Rajya Sabha. When the Chair pointed out that a member of Parliament cannot speak against a governor, Ray said that Rajya Sabha rules should be changed and referred to two substantive motions that he had earlier raised but were not taken up in the House.
Sometime later, Dhankhar said in Siliguri in north Bengal that he had been an MP and parliamentary affairs minister and would not react to any statement made inside the Parliament by a member. “If someone has chosen to say something they are free. But 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,” the governor said at a press conference.
“The chief minister is committed to the Constitution as much as I am. We both have to work together. And if there will be a situation, let us not imagine, hogi tab dekha jayega (we will face it when it happens),” said the governor when he was asked about the impasse TMC leaders have been hinting it.
He insisted that he has not committed any mistake in his 100 days in office so far.
“If I am successfully playing my role I should be spending more time outside Kolkata. I am not saying that I am a person who doesn’t commit a mistake. But I feel that during these 100 days I have committed none,” Dhankhar said in reference to his attempts to meet district administration officials and elected politicians that TMC has criticised.
He was in Siliguri on Monday to attend a sports event of Central police forces. Neither the district magistrate nor the superintendent of police went to the airport to receive him, said Dhankhar.
“I am free to go any part of West Bengal. And I will go. I don’t need anybody’s permission for that. As governor I keep the district administration and the state government informed. I do not take trips without informing the state government well in advance. My visits are planned,” said Dhankhar adding that he will attend a programme at a girl’s college in Murshidabad district on November 20 and has asked for a helicopter from the state. If the helicopter is not provided he would travel by road, he said.
Reacting to allegations by TMC leaders that he was running a parallel administration, Dhankhar said, “While coming from the airport I saw several huge cutouts of the chief minister. If I was running a parallel government the cutouts would have been mine. The chief secretary of the state has not found time to call on the governor in 50 days. I dismiss the charge.”
Saying that he was happy with the actions taken by chief minister Mamata Banerjee when cyclone Bulbul hit Bengal last week, Dhankhar said he is yet to receive any report on the disaster from her.
“The governor of the state should be briefed on Bulbul by the chief minister. I am sure she will brief me in the next three or four days,” said Dhankhar.
On Sunday, TMC’s leader in the Lok Sabha, Sudip Bandopadhyay raised the issue of Dhankhar overstepping his limits before Union home minister Amit Shah at an all-party meeting in Delhi.
“The federal cooperative system is being broadly disturbed. I have requested the home minister to call the governor immediately and advise him and guide him. He heard me quietly,” Bandopadhyay said later.